The Eastern Championships this weekend in Indianapolis almost marked the Harvard water polo team's surge to top-contender status.
But the Crimson's path was blocked by perennial nemesis Brown, which beat Harvard for the fifth time this year and consigned the aquamen to an eventual fifth-place finish in the eight team field.
Harvard gave Brown a scare late in their first-round match, closing a six-goal gap to 11-8 in the fourth quarter. But the Bruin defense, following the pattern of previous games, shut down the Crimson in the final minutes, as Brown pulled away to a 14-8 decision.
In the first round of the "losers" bracket. Washington & Lee rallied to tie the Crimson in the fourth quarter, but Co-Captain Rich Guerra pumped in the winning goal as Harvard stayed afloat, 11 9. And in the final of their bracket, the aquamen outlasted what Couch Steve Pike called "a physically intimidating" Missouri-at-Rolla squad. Junior Steve Munatones played a stellar defensive game, recording four steals and a block in the 15-13 victory.
Harvard's scheduling of relatively weak opponents during the season hurt the team in the tournament seeding. Pike said. While conceding Harvard couldn't have displaced either Brown or Loyola of Chicago from the finals (which Loyola won 11-7). Pike noted the equality among the third through seventh ranked teams, none of the games between those squads were decided by more than two goals. Had Harvard been seeded any higher than seventh, it would have played a fairly equal opponent in the first round and possibly have finished as high as third in the tourney.
THE NOTEBOOK Dave Fastled the team with 15 goals in the three games. Three quarters of his shot went in.