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A mere 24 seconds into the Friday night men's water polo match, UMass netted its first goal of the evening. It was, unfortunately, only the beginning.
In the wake of an unprecedented upset by MIT last week, Harvard suffered yet another defeat this weekend at the hands of the powerful Minutemen.
The 5-13 loss was unfortunately another step in a series of disheartening defeats that has plagued this team throughout its young season.
"It was disappointing," said junior 2-meter Mike Zimmerman. "We weren't getting done what we needed to get done as a team."
The regional powerhouse dominated the game from the outset, scoring four solid goals in the first quarter alone. The Crimson came alive in the second quarter, however, netting two goals and narrowing the gap to 2-5.
A beautiful backhand goal by Zimmerman minutes into the second half brought the team to within two points of the Minuteman.
Unfortunately, this resurgence was short lived.
A series of mental lapses at the close of the third quarter afforded UMass ample scoring opportunities, and the team netted four goals in just under three minutes of play. At that point, the powerful Minutemen commanded a 9-3 lead and cruised comfortably through the final eight minutes to emerge victorious.
Throughout the match it became evident that Harvard did not have the cohesive and unified strategies of its opponents. This lack of a solid team effort proved to be the Crimson's ultimate downfall.
"We're still not playing as a team," said Harvard Coach Don Benson'88. "It's more than just a man-to-man, one-on-one sport."
The need for a strong defensive strategy was perhaps the Crimson's chief woe during the 28 minute contest.
The team struggled to retain control of the ball and consequentially afforded the Minutemen multiple scoring opportunities.
"We had way too many turnovers and we weren't helping out our teammates," Zimmerman said. "We weren't playing aggressive defense."
Against a team like UMass, such problems proved deadly.
The weak defense necessitated a tremendous effort on the part of senior goaltender Ed Chen. Bombarded with constant scoring attempts by UMass, Chen performed remarkably well under the circumstances.
"Eddie Chen saved us from being totally humiliated," Benson said.
A solid team effort was noticeably lacking on the offensive side as well. The Crimson was not only marred by missed passes and frequent turnovers, but it was also the victim of the aggressive, physical style of the UMass defense.
Thus scoring opportunities were not as plentiful as the team desperately needed.
"We didn't take enough shots," Benson said. "Playing against a team like UMass, you don't get many scoring opportunities. When the chance to score comes up, that window of opportunity only lasts a few seconds. We weren't getting the ball there fast enough."
The effort put forth by UMass Friday night was not necessarily greater than that of Harvard. It was simply more choesive and coordinated-a true team effort.
In terms of the individual, Harvard is both powerful and capable. But individual ability alone won't win games-a lesson the Harvard men's water polo team has learned, the hard way.
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