Senior attacker Michael Katzer, shown above in earlier action, was a key player in the Crimson’s qualification for the Eastern Championships, which will take place in two weeks. Katzer had five goals over the weekend, but he wasn’t the only senior to contribute to Harvard’s solid performance. Alex Popp had strong outings in goal, particularly in the contest with MIT, where he stopped two five-meter penalty shots. Co-captain Luka Babic had two goals in the same match.
With the season on the line, Harvard’s men’s water polo secured a spot in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Eastern Championships with an 11-10 overtime victory against host MIT (10-15, 4-4 CWPA) in the opening round of this weekend’s CWPA Northern Division Championships.
The Crimson (9-18, 6-9) finished the weekend in fourth place, after losing to Brown (16-9), 18-9, Saturday evening and falling to Iona (14-13), 13-11, in the third-place game on Sunday.
“We’re really excited that we made Easterns,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “It would have been really bad if we had to host Easterns and watch other people play.”
In their last chance to qualify for the Eastern Championships, the seniors on the team reached a milestone for their class, as they battled all weekend to earn Harvard’s first berth in this tournament since 2007.
“There were some real gutsy performances by the seniors,” senior attacker Michael Katzer said. “A ton of credit to everyone who hit the water and everyone on the team.”
IONA 13, HARVARD 11
Already qualified for Easterns, the Crimson looked to end the weekend on a strong note, but eventually gave up a fourth-quarter lead to lose a tight match to the Gaels from New Rochelle, N.Y.
“We lost a tough one this morning to Iona,” Minnis said. “We had a lead going in to the fourth quarter, [and we] probably should have closed that out. They outplayed us and outhustled us in the fourth quarter, so that’s tough.”
Despite the loss, the close finish demonstrates Harvard’s improvement over the season, considering Iona beat the Crimson by a nine-goal margin in September.
With the Gaels qualifying for the Eastern Tournament as well, Harvard may have the chance to redeem itself in a potential rematch two weeks from now at Blodget Pool.
BROWN 18, HARVARD 9
Against No. 17 Brown, Harvard showed resilience throughout the game, keeping it close until fatigue set in for the Crimson in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bears to take control and advance to the finals.
The Crimson kept this one within reach for most of the game, trailing 6-4 after one quarter and 11-7 at the half. The third quarter was a defensive battle, with only one goal scored by the Brown offense.
But in the fourth quarter, the Bears tallied six goals against a worn-out Harvard squad, sending the Crimson to the third-place game against Iona.
“We played Brown the toughest we played all year, so I was real happy with the way we played,” Minnis said. “They’re a real good team, so [it was good] for us to be in the game in the third quarter. We just kind of ran out of gas. They kind of took over and dominated in the fourth.”