The No. 14 Harvard men’s water polo team went a perfect 2-0 on the weekend, pulling out two victories in two very close games. Saturday afternoon, the Crimson defeated No. 15 Brown 11-10 in overtime. Its success rolled over into the second game of the day, defeating crosstown rival MIT 10-8. Harvard improved its record to 11-4 this season and 3-2 in conference play.
“I think that we have great leadership that helps to guide us in those situations (close games), and we feed off the presence of the older guys who have been in plenty of those situations before,” sophomore Austin Sechrest said. “We also have a great group of guys top to bottom and we all support each other no matter what, and it helps us to stay calm and feed off one another late in close games.”
HARVARD 11 BROWN 10
Freshman Dennis Blyashov, last week’s Northeast water polo conference rookie of the week, started things off for the Crimson with the first goal of the game. Junior Nick Bunn followed with his own goal and Blyashov then found the back of the net again to end the first quarter with a 3-1 lead against the Bears.
The Crimson held on to the lead and controlled the entirety of the first half heading into the halftime break with a narrow 5-4 advantage, thanks to goals from Sechrest and Bunn. In the second half both teams battled for the advantage, but regulation time proved to be not enough. At the end of the fourth quarter, the score was locked at 8-8, after a last minute Brown goal, forcing overtime.
“Of course we were a little disheartened to give up a game-tying goal with one second left in regulation against Brown, but I thought our team did a great job of regrouping and trusting that we were conditioned well and could win in overtime,” Sechrest said. “All overtime games are exhausting and it really just comes down to using all of the energy still in the tank to stay mentally sharp and finish our opportunities.”
In overtime, Harvard was able to outscore Brown by one goal to earn the victory. Freshman Bruno Snow and senior co-captain Colin Chiapello netted the first two overtime goals while junior Nathan Ondracek scored the game-winner for Harvard.
“We have played a lot of OT games the past few years so we’re used to it,” senior co-captain Harry Tafur said. “Our strategy doesn’t change much. The periods are 3 minutes instead of 8 so there’s less time to work with but other than that we don’t stress too much.”
HARVARD 10 MIT 8
The Crimson faced off against MIT saturday night on the Beavers’ home turf. Tensions always run high for the matchup between the two Cambridge teams, but Harvard has been able to bring home the victory for the past 13 meetings, and this weekend followed the same pattern.
“The MIT game was electric; they always bring out a rowdy crowd for our crosstown rivalry, and this game was no different,” Sechrest said. “Their fans were loud and obnoxious and personally, I fed off the energy.”
Bunn opened the Crimson’s offense with the first goal of the game. Sophomore Charlie Owens followed with another goal. Harvard ended the first half outpacing MIT 7-5.
In the second half the Crimson matched MIT’s three goals to secure the win. Freshman Jackson Enright, Chiapello, and Sechrest all scored for the Crimson. Sechrest ended the game with a hat trick.
—Staff writer Ginny Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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