This one's over. Count it done. The light's out. The fat lady's sung.
That's according to ever-confident, ever-exuberant Harvard Water Polo Coach Andy Freed. "We will win the Eastern Water Polo Championship," Freed declared.
Despite being seeded only sixth in the eight team championship, to be held this weekend at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Freed and the Crimson are confident they can pull out a victory.
"We should play to the level we're capable of, and we should win," Freed said.
The team has been working out hard in the last few weeks, the coach said, and it has used the Ivy League and New England tournaments in the last two weekends to hone its skills.
The tournament bracket may favor Harvard. The first round matches the Crimson against Slippery Rock. The Rock is traditionally the most powerful team in the East (it embarrassed Harvard 13-0 last year), but it has shown a few cracks this season.
"They are looking past us, because they're overconfident," Freed said.
If Harvard does beat Slippery Rock, it will likely face Ivy-rival Princeton in the second round. Although Harvard has not defeated the Tigers this year, the Crimson has played them extremely close in recent contests and, last weekend, only lost on a fluke play at the end of the game.
A Crimson victory over Princeton would put Harvard in the final, with a berth to the eight-team NCAA tournament secured.
The NCAA's will be held November 27-29 at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Center in Long Beach, Calif.
The key to victory this weekend lies in the elimination of little mistakes. All season, the team has shown flashes of potential interspersed with careless mental mistakes.
Freed looks for extra effort from the senior Co-Captains Chad Barker and Mason Ford, as well as junior Jeff Zimmerman and sophomore Jose Busquets.
"Zim's our leading scorer, and Jose has one of the best outside shots on the East," Freed said. "I expect them to ring a few goalies' bells this weekend."
In addition, Harvard will rely on a defense that has become increasingly stingy during the season.
Anchored by junior Erik Atkisson and star senior goalie Danny Oakes, Harvard gave up a total of only 11 goals in two games last weekend against Brown and Boston College.
Freed is looking for the same kind of effort this weekend in Annapolis. He'll need it.
Back in September, the colorful coach called this year's team the best in Harvard water polo history. Now his squad will get a chance to fit the billing.