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Showdown For Nationals: Harvard Versus Michigan

By Jose A. Guerra

Coach Chris Hafferty of the Harvard women's water polo team is realistic about his third-seeded squad's chances in this weekend's Eastern championships at a busy Blodgett Pool.

The Crimson fully expects to trip up against top-seeded Slippery Rock in the 23-game tourney featuring the top eight Eastern collegiate squads and three club teams. But Hafferty thinks his inexperienced team can pose a threat to second-seeded Michigan, which it plays today at 4:30 p.m. Harvard also plays Maryland today at 11:30 a.m.

"Michigan's not out of reach at all," Hafferty said. "Even though they're ahead of us in the seeds, I think we can hold them and beat them if we play a solid game, which I think we will."

If the Crimson can beat the speedy Wolverines, it will nail down a spot at the national tournament to be held in two weeks at Brown. Otherwise, Harvard will have to put on a strong showing against the lower seeds in order to earn an at-large bid to the nationals.

Harvard will have to avoid mental mistakes and swim agressively to out-maneuver the faster Michigan squad. In a recent game, Michigan fell by a respectable 5-1 margin to Slippery Rock, the perennial polo powerhouse that finished third in the nation last season.

The top finishers in the preliminaries move onto the bracketed round tomorrow morning beginning at 10 a.m. The field will be whittled down to the top two teams, who face off at 4 p.m. for the championship.

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