For the Harvard men’s water polo team, last weekend’s trip to California was anything but a beach vacation.
The Crimson (6-14, 6-9 CWPA) went 0-5 in The Rodeo, an 18-game invitational tournament hosted by Santa Clara University. Of the nine teams in the field, seven ranked among the top 20 in the nation.
“We came into this tournament knowing that we were going to play some of the toughest competition in the country,” sophomore attacker William Roller said. “We had the expectation that this trip was going to be a learning experience of seeing how these top programs play.”
SANTA CLARA 13, HARVARD 4
The Crimson finished tournament play with a 13-4 loss to No. 15 Santa Clara (15-12). The Broncos dominated the first half, outscoring Harvard 13-2. Freshman two-meter John Holland-McCowan and freshman utility player Max Murphy both scored in the first half for the Crimson. Harvard finished the match on a positive note, with senior attacker Evan Zepfel and Murphy scoring in the final frame.
Although the Crimson left California without a win, the team values the experience.
“We were looking to get better against some of the top competition in the country so that we can achieve our goal, which is to do well at [the Northern Championships] in two weeks and make [the Eastern Championship],” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said.
PEPPERDINE 20, HARVARD 2
The Crimson resumed play on Sunday, losing its first game of the day to No. 6 Pepperdine (12-8) by a score of 20-2. The Waves scored seven straight goals to open the game before Harvard rookie Evan Ramsey and sophomore attacker William Roller scored consecutive goals to put Harvard on the scoreboard. Pepperdine netted another goal just before halftime and followed with 12 more unanswered goals in the second half to seal the win.
STANFORD 19, HARVARD 3
Things did not get any easier for the Crimson, as it fell No. 3 Stanford (13-3) in the second of Saturday’s two games, 19-3.
Falling behind 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, Harvard struggled to slow down a balanced Cardinal offensive attack that saw 11 different players score at least one goal.
“Stanford was definitely the best team we’ve played all year,” Minnis said. “They’re big, they’re fast and strong, and I think we learned what we need to do to go up under pressure.”
UC DAVIS 20, HARVARD 2
In its first game on Saturday, Harvard was blown out by No. 12 UC Davis (18-7) by a score of 20-2.