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Just when things look like they can't get much worse, the unimaginable occurs and a nightmare more ghastly than one could ever fathom comes to life.
You lose to MIT.
In what will go down as one of the most disturbing losses in the history of the Harvard men's water polo team, the Engineers of MIT shocked Harvard last night with a 11-10 victory.
"I don't know what can I say," said junior Mike Zimmerman. "It was perhaps the worst of them all."
Them all refers to a slew of defeats which have plagued the Crimson throughout this young season. Not only has it lost to regional powerhouses such as Massachusetts and Queens, but it has also struggled against weaker opponents such as Iona and Brown. The loss to MIT simply takes the situation to a new, frightening level.
"This is unprecedented," said Harvard Coach Don Benson '88. "I don't think that we've ever lost to MIT. It's hard to find a silver lining in this one."
The physical talent is there, but unfortunately it is embedded somewhere beneath the droves of mental lapses. No one, neither the coaches nor the players, can seem to find a solution.
"We've had meetings, we've tried practicing harder, we are trying to do anything," Zimmerman said. "I'm not sure what the exact problem is."
The MIT debacle began early with the Engineers jumping out to 4-2 a first quarter lead.
"It started with us coming out slowly," Benson said. "We continually allow teams that we are better than to play with us. The first quarter especially has been our bane."
In reality, Harvard never really allowed itself to get back into the contest. After committing 20 fouls throughout the 28 minutes of play, for instance, the Crimson was practically handing the ball over to MIT in two-of-every-three offensive chances.
Thus, Harvard's speed and explosive counter-attack-the cornerstone of its offense-was stymied before MIT ever had to retreat to its own end.
"I classify it as a mental block," Benson said. "We made a lot of mental mistakes. Yes. We just haven't figured out how to play together."
Harvard's scoring against MIT, although diverse-with six different players finding the back of the net-it does however, highlight the crux of the offensive problems.
In the heart of the Crimson attack is All American 2-meter man Zimmerman. As of late, Harvard has been unable to exploit its strength in the middle of the pool. Crisp passes around the horn and into Zimmerman's hands have been absent as the ball has taken on a vicious life of its own.
"We've had too many turnovers because we haven't protected the ball well," Benson explained. "We've been putting the ball at [Zimmerman's] head or to where he has to swim for it. As a result we have put him in a position where he can get mugged."
Yet in the midst of the frustration and flat-out bewilderment lies a steadfast confidence and a belief that things will indeed get better.
"I still believe that we have the potential to be an excellent team," Benson said. "I still expect us to be one of the top teams in the region."
"I know that we are a very capable team and I know that it will turn around," Zimmerman said. "I know we can play with any team. It is just a matter of playing well for an entire game."
Hopefully for the Crimson, the tide will change and things will brighten. Then again, after a 11-10 loss to MIT, things can't get much worse.
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