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No foul was called, no goal was scored, the game went into overtime and sooner than you can say "blown call," it was Princeton--not Harvard--earning the right to battle Brown for top Ivy League water polo honors.
With two seconds remaining in Saturday's game against the Tigers and the score knotted at 8-8, Harvard had an opportunity to drown host Princeton and gain a shot at the Ivy title against the top-seeded Bruins.
But on a man-up opportunity, Harvard's Mason Ford was, in the words of Co-Captain John Marshall, "mauled" in the act of shooting by a swarming Tigers defense.
The referees, following a pattern established earlier in the game, failed to blow the whistle to award a possible penalty shot. Harvard (13-9) failed to score and the game went into overtime.
In what Chad Barker termed "a back and forth game," it was the Tigers who ended up looking back at the Crimson, which was outscored, 4-2, in overtime, on its way to a 12-10 defeat. Harvard had knocked off Columbia, 16-9, earlier that day.
Marshall said going into this weekend's Ivy championships that Harvard's main competition would come from Princeton and Brown. And he was right. Sort of. Harvard never got to face Brown, and may have encountered as much competition from the referees as from Princeton.
Marshall was reluctant to blame the referees for the Crimson's loss, but did admit that the Tigers seemed to be getting the calls that the Crimson was not.
In the game, Princeton benefited from three penalty shots--one of them coming in overtime--while Harvard was granted only one.
"What hurt us was that we started thinking about the referees rather than our game," Marshall said. "We got distracted."
A disciplined, physical Tiger attack may also have had something to do with the distraction.
"They kept running the same play over and over again on offense," Marshall said. "Three out of four times we would defend it, but on the fourth they would score."
Harvard goaltender Peter Toot did make 10 saves on Princeton shots, most of them coming from close range.
On the Crimson offensive end, Harvard was paced by Barker's four goals, but was plaguedby missed opportunities.
While the third-seeded Tigers' victory over thesecond-seeded Crimson cannot be termed a majorupset--after all, Princeton has already beaten apowerful, nationally ranked Navy squad--Harvarddoesn't lose to Ivy League opponents other thanBrown very often.
"It's the first time we've lost to anyone elsein the league since I've been here," saidMarshall, a fourth-year polo player.
So when it came time to take to the pool foryesterday's match against Yale to determine thirdplace in the Ivies, the Crimson's Peter Richardssummed up the team's attitude this way:"Basically, we just wanted to get it over with andget home."
Harvard downed the Elis, 8-6, and with wetheads boarded the bus home to face midterms,Halloween and the unusual prospect of failing toqualify for the Eastern championships.
The Crimson will host the New EnglandChampionships this weekend at Blodgett Pool. WithBrown virtually assured of an Easterns berth afterdispensing with Princeton yesterday, Harvard mustcontain MIT Friday night to earn a Saturdayshowdown with UMass to determine New England'ssecond and last Easterns entry
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