While most Harvard students were enjoying the final days of their spring break, the women’s water polo team was busy wrapping up their seven-game road trip in California on Friday and Saturday in games against Cal State East Bay and UC Berkeley.
The Crimson (10-9, 1-0 CWPA) only managed to come out of the trip with a 2-5 record, and despite dropping both of this weekend’s matchups, Harvard’s two most recent games were helpful in exposing areas that stil need improvement.
“The week has been a great learning experience,” said sophomore attacker Aisha Price. “We came away with some big wins and also had some tough losses, but through all these wins and losses we were still able to come together and play as a team.”
Junior attacker Shannon Purcell said that the biggest lesson learned over the week was how to handle teams that have a more physical style of play.
“Being in California and playing some of the more aggressive teams was something we needed to get used to,” Purcell said. “So it was nice that we were able to adjust and handle a harder press over the week. We’ve only had one conference game thus far, so we’re in a great position going forward.”
UC BERKELEY 12, HARVARD 4
Harvard was consistent on offense by scoring in all four quarters, but No. 2 Cal (16-3) outscored the visitors, 12-4.
Purcell opened up the offense for the Crimson by scoring the team’s initial goal in the first quarter, cutting UC Berkeley’s lead to 2-1.
“They were double-teaming my teammate, so I was able to sneak past my defender,” Purcell said. “Then I got a pass form the weak side and just shot it right off the pass.”
The Crimson was down 7-2 at halftime, after sophomore two-meter guard Elise Molnar scored Harvard’s only goal in the second quarter. Molnar scored again in the third frame, but the Crimson was unable to mount a comeback.
Freshman attacker Shayna Price gave Harvard its final goal of the game in the fourth quarter, but her efforts were not rewarded, as the homecoming for Crimson assistant coach Jessi Wood, a 2008 Cal graduate, turned bittersweet with the defeat.
CAL STATE EAST BAY 12, HARVARD 8
With great plays on both ends of the pool, Harvard was able to keep up with Cal State East Bay (14-7) through the first three quarters of the game. But the Crimson’s efforts in the final period were not enough to save the team from dropping its fourth game in a row.
Tied 2-2 after the first quarter and 6-6 at halftime, Harvard was outscored, 4-2, in the third quarter and held scoreless in the final frame.
“Both teams came out with great intensity,” Purcell said. “But they were able to push us a little harder and capitalize on their opportunities more than we were.”
The Pioneers were able to fight back from deficits of 2-1 and 5-3 in the first half, and eventually added two goals in the fourth quarter, while the Crimson’s offense struggled to find its stride.
“It was a combination of having a couple of opportunities on goals we couldn’t quite put away and we didn’t get some calls for us,” Price said. “But it was a good learning experience.”
As disappointing as the loss may be, junior Monica Zdrojewski provided a couple of highlights with three goals and a steal. Price also turned in a strong performance with one goal, two assists, and a steal.