Men's Water Polo Snags Three Victories at Princeton Invite

JUDGE, JURY, EXECUTIONER
Now-junior attacker Grayson Judge fights off a defender before passing to a teammate in last year's match-up with MIT.

No. 10 Harvard Men’s water polo (5-2, 0-0 Ivy League) went three for three on the weekend, defeating east coast opponents No. 17 George Washington (4-3, 0-0 Atlantic-10) and Chapman (1-3, 0-0 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference)on Saturday, and No. 16 Bucknell (1-6, 0-0 Patriot League) on Sunday at the annual Princeton Invite. The Crimson had a dominating Saturday performance, outscoring George Washington and Chapman by a combined total of 13 goals. Competition was tighter on Sunday as Harvard edged out Bucknell by only one goal.

“I thought we did a good job of taking steps forward,” head coach Ted Minnis said. “I thought this weekend and the way the schedule was set up and having Bucknell as our third game was tough. The last time we played Bucknell was a sudden death victory for us. We had to focus on a very good GW team and a very good Chapman team and stay composed and get through those games so that we could really battle with Bucknell.”

HARVARD 10, BUCKNELL 9

Harvard opened up the game against Bucknell with a goal from junior Nathan Ondracek. The score was close the entirety of the game, and sophomore Austin Sechrest scored late in the final hour to clinch the victory. Sechrest had an impressive offensive performance against the Bison as his game winning goal was his fourth of the game.

“We played Bucknell last year in NCAA so it’s kind of turned into a rivalry game,” co-captain Harry Tafur said. “They have a lot of great players and a good coach so it was really a team win.”

At the beginning of the fourth quarter the game was tied 8-8. Freshman and reigning Northeast Water Polo Conference Rookie of the Week Dennis Blyashov scored the Crimson’s ninth goal ahead of Sechrest’s game-winner to ensure a Harvard victory. Freshman Bruno Snow led the team defensively with five steals, and Blyashov added two of his own. Overall, Harvard recorded twelve steals spread amongst seven players to hold Bucknell and seal the win 10-9.

HARVARD 14, GEORGE WASHINGTON 8

The first half of the match was neck-and-neck with both the Crimson and the Colonials entering halftime with four one the board. Harvard pulled away in the second half scoring ten goals to George Washington’s four.

The second half offensive surge was led by Sechrest. Sechrest scored three times across the last two quarters. Co-captain Colin Chiapello also scored a hat trick of his own to contribute to the Crimson victory.

The strong offensive performance was only made possible due to a stronger defense. Ondracek, Snow, and freshman Jackson Enright all collected three steals a piece. Ondracek three steals all came in the fourth quarter and each of them resulted in a Harvard goal. Between the posts junior Anthony Ridgley had a solid performance, recording 11 saves for the Crimson.

HARVARD 17, CHAPMAN 10

The second game of the day against Chapman felt a lot like the morning’s. The Crimson again tacked on ten goals in the last two quarters to secure their victory by seven goals.

“We had a really good season last year and teams are showing up to play us,” Minnis said. “At the beginning of games people are fresh. They are playing well and they have adrenaline. I think we know that we have to settle down and get into the flow of the game and start to try and dictate the tempo and pace and it takes a little time to do that. Our conditioning really comes into effect then.”

Harvard’s offense was hot in the first quarter, propelling the team to a 6-4 early lead. The offense was unable to find its footing in the second and Chapman was able to close the gap to 7-6 Harvard before halftime.

The Crimson regrouped in the break and came back in the third quarter with five goals while allowing Chapman only one. Harvard banged out five more goals in the fourth to secure the win.

Blyashov had another standout performance scoring five goals against Chapman to make it seven on the day. Sophomore Nikhil Suri played the entire game in the net and recorded 11 saves.

“All three games were pretty good,” Tafur said. “It’s good to have three wins after going 2-2 last weekend. So we are pretty happy about that. We just need to get back to work starting tomorrow.”

—Staff writer Ginny Miller can be reached at ginny.miller@thecrimson.com.

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