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The Crimson water polo team held off a Springfield surge Saturday to top the Chiefs, 10-9, and win the New England NCAA title for the first time ever.
The Crimson placed seventh in the AAU national tournament a few weeks ago, and also recorded a number of convincing regular season triumphs.
Springfield had compiled a 3-1 record during the double-elimination tournament to qualify for the finals, while Harvard had downed Wesleyan, Bowdoin, and Springfield before edging the Chiefs again for the title.
The Crimson defense was particularly effective in the first win of the day, an 18-0 thrashing of Wesleyan. Goalie Peter Kertes turned in the tournament's only shutout with the help of guards Terry Flanagan and Steve Rennard. Dave Powlison was the scoring leader with eight goals.
The second match, against Bowdoin, was another runaway. Leland Faust netted five goals and also broke up a number of scoring attempts by the Polar Bears as Harvard won, 20-3.
The Crimson finally met up with a tough foe in the next game when it squared off against Springfield. Tom McGill, a high school All-American from California, was the Harvard standout as he tallied 11 times in the 16-14 victory which set the stage for the finals.
Harvard's success was reflected in the tournament all-star selections. Bragg, Powlison, Rennard, and McGill were all chosen. Bragg, the Crimson captain, was not overwhelmed by the selections. "All of the guys on the team played well enough to be chosen for the all-star team, but the method of selection made it practically impossible for this to happen," he said.
The Harvard captain mentioned first-year law student Lee Faust in particular. "Lee was especially deserving of all-tournament status, but because of his unselfish team play, he was overlooked by the selection committee," Bragg said.
McGill High Scorer
With the help of his 11 goals in the first Springfield game, McGill led all scorers in the tournament with a total of 27 tallies.
The Harvard team lacked a unified strategy as a result of a shortage of practice time in the IAB pool, but made up for this problem through outstanding individual performances and experiences gained in the AAU championships.
Flanagan, Powlison, and Bragg are all members of the Crimson swimming team. Powlison, who competes in the long freestyle events, is a member of the sophomore corps expected to strengthen the Harvard swimming team in the next two years after exceptional performances last winter.
No on expected Harvard to have such a powerful water polo team this year. Despite being unranked, the Crimson decided to enter the AAU's for the first time in the meet's 33-years history. As a result of the team's surprising success, which came after only five weeks of practice. Harvard emerged as the too-ranked team in the East. Even more encouraging, the entire squad will be back next spring.
The water polo team has two more contests left on its schedule. The club's opponents will be Bowdoin and M.I.T., the third-place finisher in the NCAA's.
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