Many Harvard Teams Still in Contention Heading Into Final Regular Season Weekend

Published by Crimson Sports Staff on April 26, 2012 at 3:12AM

Heading into the final weekend of conference play, many Harvard teams are still in contention for the Ancient Eight title and/or a berth to the NCAA tournament. Here are the projections of what each team needs to do in order to succeed:

Baseball

After taking three of four contests against Brown last week, the Harvard baseball team is still in control of its own destiny in the Ivy League. This weekend, the Crimson tees off against Dartmouth, a team that sits in first place in Harvard's division. The Crimson must sweep all four games against the Big Green—two at home, two in New Hampshire—in order to force a one-game playoff against its New Hampshire rival to decide which team will advance to the Ivy League champtionship series.

Men's Golf

Ivy’s are coming at a good time for men’s golf, as the team’s play has been shaping up after just two tournaments in the spring season thus far. Though the Crimson hasn’t won the Ivy League championship since 1975—its only time earning the title—there is a chance Harvard can win it once more in 2012.

Last week, the Crimson finished second in the Century Intercollegiate behind URI but ahead of all of the Ivy League teams competing. Seniors Mark Pollak and captain Tony Grillo, all-Ivy League selections in 2010, will look to lead the team finish in strong in their last year at Galloway National.

Harvard will face stiff competition from many of the Ivy League squads, including Yale, who won the championship last year as well as the Princeton Invitational two weeks back. Columbia and Princeton also finished ahead of the Crimson in that tournament, and Dartmouth bested Harvard last fall while winning the Philadelphia Big 5 Invitational (in which Penn finished ahead of the Crimson as well).

If Harvard can replicate its success of last weekend, chances are relatively high for the Crimson to take its first Ivy League championship in 37 years.

Women's Golf

Harvard women’s golf is heading to New Jersey this weekend to compete for the 2012 Ivy League Championship. Based on the fall and spring season, the Crimson has the skills, training, and experience to win the league and head to the NCAA Regionals.

Harvard has been succeeding in team and individual play in the past year. The Crimson has several invitational titles under its belt, including the most recent Roar-EE Invitational Crown. Within the league, Harvard won the Yale and Princeton Invitationals earlier this fall.

While the Crimson has experienced some difficulty and exhaustion from bad weather and long tournaments, the women have outstroked their competition overall. Riding on a high from the previous weekend, Harvard should have the confidence to stay focused and come home with this weekend.

Individually, women’s golf has some of the top golfers in the country. Tiffany Lim  ’15 has consistently shown her skill and has been ranked as the top ten freshmen in the country. Another valuable rookie from this year is Brenna Nelson, who steadily contributes to the team’s efforts. Under the leadership of captain Christine Cho, the Crimson has the talent and momentum necessary to win.

The last time Harvard as a team came away with the title was 2009, with Penn and Yale winning in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Harvard will look to redeem its second place finish in the tournament last year when the team takes on the rest of the league at the Seaview Bay Course.

Men's Lacrosse

The projections for men’s lacrosse is simple. If the Crimson wins, it makes the Ivy Tournament as the No. 3 seed to keep its season going. If it loses, Harvard will need to rely on Dartmouth, which has struggled all season, to beat Brown in order to clinch the No. 4 seed. Otherwise, the Crimson’s season will be over for the 2012 campaign.

Women's Lacrosse

After Penn’s victory over Princeton on Wednesday night, the Harvard women’s lacrosse team knows its fate: for the second straight year, the Crimson will be playing in the Ivy League tournament.

The only two games left are between Harvard and second-place Dartmouth and between Cornell and Brown. Cornell is tied with the Crimson for third, while Brown is out of contention for the tournament or the Ancient Eight title.

No matter what the outcome of the two contests, Dartmouth, Penn, Cornell, and Harvard will be the ones battling for an automatic spot in the NCAA tournament.

Softball

Coming into the year as reigning champions, the Harvard softball team was viewed as the favorite to repeat. As the Ivy Championship Series looms, there has been no reason to change that prediction. In a home sweep of Brown, the Crimson locked up their third straight championship appearance, along with a home field adavantage, and will battle either Penn or Cornell for the title.

Harvard swept a doubleheader with Penn by a combined tally of 14-4 while splitting its doubleheader against Cornell, though the Crimson outscored the Big Red, 14-12 on the day.

Since those two series, Harvard has only looked stronger as the 1-2 punch of senior Rachel Brown and sophomore Laura Ricciardone has been unhittable of late and an improved Jane Alexander has provided consistency at the top of the Crimson lineup. It would take a major upset for Harvard not to take home the title once again in 2012.

Men's Tennis

Right now one is the magic number for the Harvard men’s tennis team. The Crimson has one more game left in its season and needs one more win to take possession of that elusive Ivy title.

This Saturday, the Crimson takes on Dartmouth. Here are some reasons the Crimson should win:

Mutual Opponents: Against the mighty Quakers, the Crimson faced little to no challenge as it won its match, 6-1. How did the Big Green do against Penn, you ask? Not quite as well—in fact, the final was 5-1 to the Quaker’s advantage. Interestingly, the only other Ivy loss that either of these teams has suffered has been against Columbia. So, thankfully for both of these schools, the Lions will not be present on Saturday afternoon.

The Freshmen: For a majority of the spring season, four out of Harvard’s six singles starters were rookies. Standouts such as Denis Nguyen, Shaun Chaudhuri, and Alex Steinroeder, to name a few, have not only played but actually won matches for their team. Nguyen, who plays at the No. 2 court, took the Vanderbilt match on a third-set thriller early in the season, while Steinroeder took control of the tempo and won the decisive match in the competition versus Virginia Tech. These first-years are not only skilled, but now they’re experienced. It’s a killer combo.

Past Matches: On Sat., Feb. 18, a few guys dressed in crimson overtook their green-clad counterparts. That’s right, the two teams have already played each other this season in the ECAC Championship Semi-Finals, and the Crimson was victorious, 4-2. Since that time, Harvard has only lost once.

Last Sunday, with a win over Brown, the Crimson clinched a share of the title. This week, we’re betting that they’re going all the way, and with the defeat over Dartmouth, they’ll earn their first championship since the 2008 season.

Men's Volleyball

The No. 15 Harvard men’s volleyball team is having its best season in program history. After only managing one conference win in 2011, the Crimson has made a complete turnaround in 2012, going 18-5 overall and taking second in the EIVA with 10 conference victories. With that success came new recognition, too, as Harvard entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association rankings for the first time in its history earlier this month.

Co-captain outside hitter Matt Jones, who has been delivering on both sides of the ball all season, leads the Crimson. Jones is currently ranked second in the EIVA in kills per set with 3.80 and sits ninth in the country with 0.43 service aces per set. Additionally, the senior has won both EIVA Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week awards during his final campaign, and he most recently picked up an EIVA All-Conference nod. Joining Jones in his All-Conference honors are freshman outside hitter DJ White and junior setter Rob Lothman, while Harvard coach Brian Baise garnered the EIVA Coach of the Year award.

The Crimson will take on George Mason on the neutral ground of Penn State Thursday afternoon in the EIVA semifinals. In the two matches played against the No. 3 seed Patriots earlier in the season, Harvard split the series, 1-1, and will have to rely on its strong hitting and defense to move past its foe.

If Harvard were to advance, the squad would likely take on No. 8 Penn State in the EIVA Final with a spot in the NCAA tournament on the line. The Crimson came close to downing the Nittany Lions on Apr. 7th at University Park, but Harvard was unable to close out its 2-0 lead and lost the match in five sets. While Penn State, the 2008 National Champions, are the favorites to book its place in the NCAA tournament, the Crimson has shown the can hang with the best this season, and it will have to play its best volleyball to make it to big show.

Women's Waterpolo

On Friday, the women's waterpolo team begins the CWPA Eastern Championship, the winner of which earns an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. Harvard's faces Mercyhurst the first day, and if they win, will take on Princeton in the evening and two more foes on Saturday and Sunday.

The Crimson has played both the Lakers and the Tigers twice so far this season. In the bouts against Mercyhurst, Harvard handled the games both times, winning 10-4 and 12-3. Princeton's contests were much closer, with the Crimson losing each with scores of 9-6 and 9-8.