After weeks of arduous road trips and non-stop action in pools across the Eastern and Western seaboards, the Harvard women’s water polo team prepared to play in possibly its last games of the season during the Northern Championships.
The Crimson faced the daunting task of finishing in the top two spots to qualify for the Eastern Championships. To do that, Harvard had to do something it hadn’t done all year—defeat either Hartwick or Brown to get into the final.
The Crimson dropped two matches to Hartwick and Brown consecutively before rebounding to capture third place against Connecticut College. Harvard now awaits a committee decision to see if its season warrants one of the last two at-large bids to the Eastern Championships.
“There are three or four teams gunning for [the last at large spots], so we’re just hoping the committee likes how we played during the year,” senior co-captain Lauren Snyder said.
HARVARD 9, CONNECTICUT COLLEGE 3
With hopes of snatching an auto-bid into Easterns dashed, Harvard trotted out all six of its seniors as against the Camels.
In quite possibly their last game together in the pool, the six seniors (Cassandra Forsyth, Melissa McCreery, Melissa Mueller, Lauren Stoppel and co-captains Vivian Liao and Lauren Snyder – who played with tape over her broken finger) led Harvard to a successful finish by providing six of the team’s nine goals. Liao led all scorers with three goals. On the defensive end, junior Nicola Perlman once again put in a strong performance as she accumulated 10 saves on the night.
“What possibly is your last game is a tough one to play, but we’ve had fun playing together as a class through the years,” Snyder said.
BROWN 9, HARVARD 0
It’s not quite Yankees-Red Sox, but the rivalry between the Brown and Harvard water polo teams has certainly been a fixture over the years and 2008 has been no different. After taking the first two meetings this year, the Bears and the Crimson faced off once again in the semifinals for a shot at the Championship title.
It seemed, however, that Harvard was doomed from the onset, as its offense launched several wayward attacks on goal to no avail.
“We weren’t shooting on cage and none of our shots were going in,” Snyder said. “We were getting opportunities but just not capitalizing on them.”
Brown’s staunch defense pitched a shutout, the first time this season that Harvard failed to get on the scoreboard. Bears’ goalie Stephanie Laing, with eight saves recorded her second career shutout.
HARTWICK 17, HARVARD 7
The third time proved not to be a charm for the Crimson as they dropped their third consecutive game this season against the Hawks.
Harvard kept it competitive through the first quarter and only found itself down 3-2. The Hartwick attack, led by Kirsten Hudson, opened up in the second quarter and launched a five-goal barrage at the Crimson net.
On the other end of the pool, Hartwick netminder Jessica Dorman, kept Harvard in check with a scoreless second period en route to a 14-save performance.
“We had about three or four wide open shots that didn’t go in and we had a chance to keep it close,” Snyder said.
Despite the loss, the Crimson was still in contention to move into the finals but faced a far more difficult path as the second place team in Group A of qualifying. The setback against Hartwick thus set up a pivotal Sunday match against Brown.
HARVARD 13, QUEENS 5
Opening up as the No. 4 seed of the tournament, the Crimson found itself in a bit of a pickle against No. 5 Queens College at the end of the first quarter. With the offense starting off lethargically and its defense uncharacteristically sluggish, Harvard found itself down 4-3.
Worse, senior co-captain Lauren Snyder suffered a broken finger early on that would sideline her for the rest of the weekend.
The offense finally awoke in the second period as the Crimson unleashed its diverse attack on the unsuspecting Lady Knights, rattling off nine straight goals as nine different players scorched the opponent’s net. Harvard would finish on a 10-1 run to end the game.
Five Crimson scorers tallied two goals apiece: Snyder, MacLaughlin, Mueller, senior Cassandra Forsyth and sophomore Kathryn Bilder.
—Staff writer Mauricio A. Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.