The Harvard women’s water polo team began its ten game California road trip this weekend in shaky fashion, dropping three out of four games to top ranked teams.
SAN JOSE STATE 20, HARVARD 1
This was the first time all season that the Crimson (9-9, 0-1 Ivy League) has been matched up against a top ten team in the nation. Facing off against the 10th-ranked Spartans (17-9, 0-2 Mountain West) in the pool, Harvard was unable to get anything going offensively.
“The teams that we played so far are a lot more physical than we’re used to, which is different for us, but it’s definitely good for us,” freshman attacker Lexi Del Toro said. “We’re learning how to play against these top teams, [and] we’re learning how to be more physical and to take that back with us.”
Harvard’s lone goal was scored by senior co-captain Shayna Price, with all the other scoring taken care of by the San Jose State offense. The second half of scoring belonged to the Spartans, who scored nine unanswered goals to end the game.
For the Crimson, key scorer Yoshi Andersen did not play the entire weekend, and her goal scoring ability was missed throughout the match ups.
“She [Yoshi] is a big part of our offensive team,” Del Toro said. “I think that we played well without her, but you could definitely tell she was missing on the offensive side at least because she is a big scorer.”
UC SAN DIEGO 15, HARVARD 7
Wrestling with yet another team in the top 20 proved to be too much for the Crimson as the squad could not hold off the No. 13 Tritons (17-9).
Harvard went down early in the game, trailing 6-1 by the end of the first quarter of play.
“I think it’s the same style [of play], but the team is full of really great players,” junior co-captain Ariel Dukes said. “They’re a really good physical team and it’s always good to play those kinds of teams.
The Crimson was able to battle back in the second quarter of the game by scoring two goals of its own, only to be matched by UC San Diego. From then on the Tritons had control of the game, almost doubling Harvard’s goal tally for the remainder of the match.
SAN DIEGO STATE 7, HARVARD 5
Facing off for the second time in as many weeks, the Aztecs (12-8, 1-0 Mountain West) once again came out ahead of the battle. This week the Crimson was able to keep the game closer than the previous match up, falling by two goals compared to last week’s 12-8 loss in the Harvard Invite.
“Our coach had a very thorough scouting report for San Diego State since we already played them,” Del Toro said. “We had a lot of film on them and what they were running, so we had a much more thorough approach than last time on what they were going to run and who their good players were, so we were definitely more prepared stat wise.”
San Diego State, ranked No. 19 in the country, was able to ward off the Crimson’s offense for the majority of the game, with Harvard unable to score more than two goals in each of the four quarters of play.
The game was a defensive battle for both teams, with six Crimson players tallying steals and Dukes recording her season-high save total with 13 stops in net.
Late in the fourth quarter, Harvard was able to tie the game at five to bring the team closer to victory. The Aztecs retaliated with two back to back goals, putting them ahead and ultimately sealing the win.
HARVARD 10, CAL LUTHERAN 3
In its first match up of the road trip, the Crimson offense set the team up for success early.
Harvard scored seven goals in the first half, going up, 7-2, against the Regals (3-16) by the break.
The Crimson’s offense was anchored by Del Toro, who had three goals, her personal best on the season. Junior Victoria Frager followed with two goals and four steals throughout the competition.
Freshman Zoe Osbourne led Harvard in steals with five in the game. Overall the Crimson tallied 18 steals, halting Cal Lutheran’s offensive momentum multiple times throughout the match up.
“This weekend went really well for us, considering we’ve been given the opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the country,” Del Toro said. “It’s definitely a learning experience for us. We didn’t win all our games, but we did learn something in each of our games.”
—Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.