Junior Max Eliot led Harvard in goals scored against George Washington, recording five tallies in the Crimson’s opening game of the Princeton Invitational. The next two games did not go as planned, with co-captain Luka Babic having to leave the tournament due to an injury in the first match.
Like any sports team, a machine is greater than the sum of its parts. When there is a kink in the machinery, it can fall apart or stop working all together.
Similarly, when senior co-captain Luka Babic, a central piece to the Harvard men’s water polo team, was hospitalized for a brutal hit to the face in the fourth period of the Crimson’s Saturday morning game against George Washington, the team began to break down as its weekend at the Princeton Invitational progressed.
Babic was guarding two-meters when a backhand shot from the Colonials’ set struck him in the eye. He was taken out of the game and taken to the hospital afterward, where he received a total of 15 stitches above and below his eye.
“He’s a key component in our offense and it affected us more than we were expecting … playing without his intensity and his leadership,” freshman utility Max Murphy said.
Babic is recovering well and will likely return to the pool by next week, but Harvard’s fallout from his injury was not nearly as secure.
The Crimson (3-3) continued on to beat George Washington (3-5), 14-13, in double overtime but later lost to No. 17 Princeton (5-0) and Johns Hopkins (7-1) in its second and third games, respectively. Not until the third quarter of the invitational’s finale against Fordham did the Crimson finally regain its footing. Harvard claimed a comeback 8-6 victory over Fordham and split the Princeton Invitational, 2-2.
HARVARD 8, FORDHAM 6
Coming off of two significant losses to Johns Hopkins and the Tigers, the Crimson struggled to boost morale in the first half of its contest against the Rams, who came out strong to lead by two goals at the half.
After settling down at halftime, the Crimson knotted the score at five in third period before dominating the fourth with a 3-1 run to win.
“Everyone was exhausted at the end of two days and four games, but we switched up the line up, [which] helped keep the intensity and the excitement,” said Murphy, who led the team with three goals in his first starting game of his college career.
JOHNS HOPKINS 14, HARVARD 6
As was the trend for the weekend, Harvard got off to a slow start Sunday morning, letting the Blue Jays spring out to 5-0 lead in the first half.
“We didn’t play a solid defense,” head coach Ted Minnis said of the team’s performance in the second half. “We played a lot of man down, and they scored on that.”
While the Crimson was able to keep pace with Johns Hopkins for the remainder of the game, it was never able to close the scoring gap to less than four goals.
PRINCETON 13, HARVARD 2