Men's Water Polo Posts 1-2 Weekend

Judge, Jury, Executioner
Then-sophomore attacker Grayson Judge looks frantically for the open teammate as an MIT defender nears.

On an eight-game winning streak going into the weekend, the No. 11 Harvard men’s water polo looked to continue its winning ways. However, the streak went south as the Crimson dropped two close contests against Princeton and St. Francis, each by two goals. Harvard ended the weekend on a high note by soundly defeating Iona, finishing the weekend 1-2.

PRINCETON 11, HARVARD 9

In its first match of the weekend, Harvard fell to Princeton, 11-9. The Crimson trailed the Tigers for most of the game and fell behind, 5-2, at the half.

“We didn’t match their intensity in the first quarter, and they jumped on us,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “I felt that we had to play from behind and it was a great crowd, and they played really well.”

However, down by four goals late in the fourth quarter, Harvard had a late surge. The team scored four goals in quick succession, three coming from freshman Dennis Blyashov, to pull even with Princeton, 9-9. However, a strike from the right from Tiger All-American Matt Payne with less than a minute left sealed the game for Princeton, which emerged victorious.

“We got out to kind of a slow start and then we were really just trying to battle back throughout the game,” sophomore Austen Sechrest said. “So I think our team showed a lot of heart to tie it back at 9-9 in the fourth quarter.”

Two Harvard players accumulated hat tricks, Blyashov and senior captain Colin Chiapello. Junior goalkeeper Anthony Ridgley had 11 saves in the net.

ST. FRANCIS 13, HARVARD 11

In the morning game on Sunday, Harvard again started off slowly. A quick Terrier goal from Nikita Prokhin 36 seconds into the contest marked the early energy of the St. Francis squad. The Crimson trailed the terriers at the half, 13-9, and was not able to come back after scoring two more goals in the second half, losing 13-11.

“I didn’t think we stuck to our game plan very well in the first game against St. Francis,” Minnis said, “and we let them dictate the tempo and pace of the game, and we played catch-up again from behind.”

For the Terriers, William Lapkin accumulated a game-high six goals, and freshman goalie Finn Doerries saved a penalty shot as the game wound down.

Harvard was led again by Blyashov, who scored five goals. Sophomore goalkeeper Nikhil Suri entered the game in the second half and made six saves between the posts to keep the game close.

HARVARD 13, IONA 9

After two disappointing performances, the Crimson picked up its intensity in its final match of the weekend against Iona, jumping out to quick start with four goals in the first quarter.

“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge,” Sechrest said. “We had seen their results, and they have definitely improved a lot, but we really didn’t want to end the weekend 0 and 3, so we just went out there. We wanted to start off the game strong because the first two games of the weekend, we were down 6-2 in both games, and for the last game of the weekend, we wanted to jump out to strong start.”

Blyashov continued his torrid scoring pace, recording seven goals. Sechrest led the team defensively with five steals. Suri, starting in net, made 11 saves on the way to victory.

Minnis said that the team “can’t worry about what the past is” and must “focus on and getting better” in preparation for pivotal matchups against Brown and MIT next week. Next week marks Harvard’s home-opener.

“We’re looking forward to this week of practice because we know we have a lot to work on after this weekend,” Sechrest said. “So, it’s a good wake up call, and we’re going to get back in the pool tomorrow and be ready to work hard.”

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