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It was one long day, but after more than four hours on the team bus and two games behind them, the Harvard men's water polo team (5-3, 2-1 EWPL) returned home from the Northern Division Tournament at the University of Massachusetts with one convincing win and one near-upset.
Harvard 5, UMass 8
Going into the game, the "W" was practically already given to UMass. The Crimson was just hoping to play a solid game and at least put up a fight against the Minutemen powerhouse.
"UMass is either number one or two in the East," junior goalie Ed Chen said. "We knew that we could beat them, but it would have had to be a perfect game for us."
As it continues to do so far in the season, however, Harvard surprised even itself when it found itself with a 5-3 lead going into the fourth quarter.
If it wasn't hard enough to pull an upset against UMass in the first place, the task was made even more insurmountable when three of Harvard's starters were ejected for the final quarter.
After amassing three major fouls apiece, junior driver Andy Davis, freshman utility Dror Bar-ziv and senior driver Dan Arbalaez were red-flagged and tossed from play.
David did beat Goliath, but at least that guy was at full strength. Without three of its starters, Harvard was a sitting duck. Poised and ready to pounce, UMass unleashed five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter and walked away with the 8-5 victory.
"They were big losses," said Chen when talking about the three ejected starters. "If they had stayed in the game, we could have beat them. [The game] showed us that we can play and beat anyone in the east."
The Crimson had little time to sing the "what ifs" as it was back in the pool just hours later against the weaker Boston College squad.
Harvard 17, Boston College 11
After the emotion-packed UMass loss, Harvard came out a little flat in the second game.
"I don't know if it was disappointment over the UMass game, but we didn't play our best game," Arbalaez said. "But we knew that it was a league game and we needed the victory."
Despite possessing a bigger team a newly introduced UMass style of defense, Boston College failed to pose a much of a threat to Harvard.
The Eagles were like an annoying mosquito, and it didn't take much for the Crimson to squash the pest.
In addition, after almost beating one of the strongest teams in the region, Harvard was not about to let Boston College pull an upset.
"We just wanted to show them that they didn't belong," Chen said. "We were angry but confident. We came out strong but then had some mental breakdowns. It probably should have been more of a blowout than it was."
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