The Harvard men's water polo team has its work cut out for itself this week.
The Crimson (18-6 overall) could be satisfied with its second place finish at last weekend's New England Championships in Providence. But the squad's 11-3 loss to Brown in the final game illustrated some critical offensive deficiencies--deficiencies which will have to be remedied soon if Harvard is to have any chance to qualify for the NCAA s at next weekend's Eastern League Championships.
"Our offense was stagnant," freshman Peter Richards said. "We controlled them defensively for a while, but we got a couple of bad breaks, and they completely shut us down."
Junior Nick Branca's 13th goal of the season helped keep Harvard within one goal at the end of the first quarter, 2-1. However, a critical call by the officials in the second period added to the Crimson's woes, and the squad was not able to recover.
Harvard goalie Greg Beber blocked a controversial four-meter penalty shot by the Bruins. But after Beber deflected the shot, the official called the senior goalkeeper for being too far out from goal (a penalty usually called before the shot) and awarded another four-meter shot to the Bruins. The subsequent goal led to the 6-1 halftime Brown lead.
"You can't blame an 11-3 loss on the refs," Co-Captain Steve Dodge said, "but after that point in the second quarter, we certainly had an antagonistic game with the referees."
Freshman Todd Forman and sophomore John Marshall added goals in the second half to close out Harvard's scoring, and Beber finished the game with seven saves.
The Crimson power play, which has plagued Coach Chris Hafferty's squad all year, failed again. The Crimson was unsuccessful on all five of its man-advantage opportunities. In contrast, the Bruins scored on four of their five power-play situations.
Forman's seven-goal outburst sparked Harvard's 13-6 win over MIT Saturday, catapulting Harvard into the tournament finals. The victory was the team's fifth straight win over MIT this season.
"We really accomplished what we wanted to--take it to 'em early," Richards said. "We were able to control the ball, work our offense and counterattack to perfection, and our sloughingdefense was a big success against theirhole-setter."
MIT's Will Schrorr, who pulverized the Crimsondefense for seven goals in Harvard's 15-12overtime win in Cambridge two weeks ago, waslimited to just one goal because of Harvard'ssloughing, double-teaming defense.
Beber was forced to make only seven saves andfreshman Mike Johnson added two goals inpropelling the Crimson to its 18th win of theseason.
Johnson, Richards, Co-Captain Eric Bentley,Andy Freed and Kio Lippitt led a balancedoffensive attack with two goals each as Harvardcruised to an easy win, 13-6, over B.C. in thefirst round of the tournament.
The Crimson's aggressive defense dominated theEagles with Johnson and sophomore John Griffineach contributing four steals to the Crimson'simpressive total of 16 in the game. Goalie ScottFrewing added seven saves in keeping B.C. winlessagainst Harvard in four matches this season.
The Crimson will have to play above itsabilities to finish well in next weekend's EasternLeague Championships. Harvard will probably enterthe tournament seeded seventh or eighth in a fieldof eight teams. The squads will be vying for twoberths to the NCAA Championships over Thanksgivingweekend. To qualify for the NCAA tournament, theaquamen must advance to the finals of theEasterns.
"We will have to spend this week reallyconcentrating on our set offense plus our 6-on-5offense and defense," Dodge said. "We didn't playtogether as a team on Sunday. We still need somework."
"Our whole attitude all season long has beenthat we are almost there but [Brown] has beenstronger and more experienced," Richards said. "Wefeel we're close to putting it together and nextweek is our last chance to show that."