With September in the books, Harvard men’s water polo team (12-6, 4-0) travels to California this weekend where the Crimson faces a slew of highly competitive water polo clubs in No. 10 Long Beach State (12-3), Pomona-Pitzer (1-11), No. 9 Loyola Marymount (7-6), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2-12), and No. 2 UC Santa Barbara in the Gary Troyer Claremont Convergence.
Harvard, fresh off a loss on Sunday to Bucknell (6-8) that ended its first nine-game winning streak since 2002, will look to improve on its road record (2-3) and gain experience playing against several elite teams.
“We are pretty even-keeled right now,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “We realize that there are a lot of games left to play and that we have to take every chance to learn from our failures.”
The Crimson has rallied around the hot play of several of its stand-out freshman players including Ben Zepfel, Blake Lee, and Noah Harrison to race to its best 18-game start since 2002 and stay undefeated in conference play.
“At this point we are trying to get better as a team in every aspect,” Minnis said. “Three out of five of the teams we play [this weekend] are in the top 10. We are looking to improve in all aspects [of our game].”
Harvard begins its weekend in the Golden State with a match against Long Beach State. Ranked 10th in the country, the 49ers feature a stingy defense helmed by sophomore goalie Balint Meszaros.
The 49ers won’t be the only top 10 team that the Crimson faces this weekend as Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara are both similarly ranked.
Coming off an 11-10 upset win over former No. 2 UCLA, the No. 2 Gauchos will be the highest ranked team that Harvard will face this season. The No. 9 Lions also present a stiff challenge to the Crimson. In the only other matchup between the two teams, Loyola Marymount beat Harvard soundly,19-4, in 2008.
With the playoffs in sight, the Crimson will look to get some sunshine in October and prepare for the postseason.
—Staff writer Joseph Pak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.