Learning hurts. That’s what the Harvard men’s water polo team found out this weekend when it traveled to California to play some of the best teams in the country at the Claremont Convergence Tournament. Taking on Chapman and Pomona-Pitzer on Friday and nationally-ranked Concordia and Cal Baptist on Saturday, the Crimson dropped all four contests.
“California is the epicenter, the pinnacle of collegiate water polo,” said sophomore utility man Mike Katzer. “What we want to do is play tough competition. If we win, that’s great, but mainly [we want] to improve.”
There were certainly many teaching moments this weekend.
The Crimson (4-12, 2-0 CWPA North), which had been playing well going into the weekend, hope they have learned enough going into the meat of conference play, where the team is currently undefeated and tied for first place.
“We make this trip to gear up for the league games and that will determine our season,” Katzer said. “We have three games coming up, they’re huge games, and that’s what really matters.”
NO. 20 CAL BAPTIST 14, HARVARD 5
The Crimson was the last thing standing between Cal Baptist (14-2) and a sweep of the Claremont Convergence schools. But after bowling over the rest of the teams they played this weekend, the Lancers’ game against Harvard was more of a victory lap than anything else. Eight different Cal Baptist players scored while Katzer’s hat trick accounted for the majority of the scoring on the Crimson’s side. The Lancers were all over the Crimson, forcing twelve turnovers, something they had done against teams throughout the weekend.
“Let’s just say we didn’t play our best,” co-captain Egan Atkinson said, “but I think we definitely got some kinks out and we’ll be better in upcoming games.”
Senior goalie Nikhil Balarman made 11 saves in the loss.
NO. 14 CONCORDIA 11, HARVARD 6
Harvard’s game against Concordia had more bright spots than the Cal Baptist game, but the result was still the same. The Crimson rallied from an 8-2 halftime deficit to bring the score within two goals.
“If we set our minds to it we can really play against any team in the nation,” junior Jeff Lee said.
But Harvard was unable to close the gap any further, and the Eagles (17-2) scored three more for an 11-6 win.
Harvard has been rotating goalies, and this time it was sophomore Alexandre Popp who recorded the saves, with eight for the outing.
“I think our goalies both showed some great moments and [demonstrated] maturity and they both are showing great progress,” junior co-captain Bret Voith said. “Their play gives the rest of the team confidence.”