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The Harvard women’s water polo team posted a split decision this weekend, handily defeating Connecticut College before dropping a tight match against Brown.
The Crimson (2-7) held its own early on against the Bears (7-2) but ultimately was left in Brown’s wake during the fourth quarter as Harvard fell 10-7.
The Crimson took an early lead thanks to freshman Arin Keyser, who exploded out of the gate to give Harvard a two-goal advantage.
Keyser quickly gained possession of the ball twice, and rippled the mesh for a pair before Brown ever touched the ball.
From there, the game settled into a less-frantic pace, with neither team able to shake the other.
“After Brown caught up, it was back-and-forth,” said sophomore Teresa Codini. “No team pulled ahead or fell behind by very much.”
Although neither team was able to gain the upper-hand, the Bears had more one-swimmer advantages and therefore ultimately created more opportunities.
“If a team gets a kickout, it’s 20 seconds to work with an extra player,” Codini said. “It’s usually the greatest opportunity to score.”
This Ivy battle proved Codini right, as most of the scoring came with the man advantage.
For the Crimson, captain Tiana Peterson and sophomore Tina Codini each found the back of the net during kickouts, keeping Harvard in the game.
After Theresa Codini snuck a shot past the Brown keeper, the score was level at six headed into the final period.
In the final frame of play, the Crimson had as much difficulty keeping swimmers in the game as remaining even with the Bears.
Multiple kickout opportunities for Brown ultimately proved too much for Harvard to handle, as the Bears scored four times to pull ahead for good.
“I thought we had some bad calls,” Teresa Codini said. “They scored their goals off six-on-fives.”
Harvard 12, Conn. College 3
Connecticut College proved to be a less formidable opponent than Brown and the Crimson easily brushed the Camels aside in a 12-3 victory.
Against Conneticut College, Harvard varied its lineup, mixing formations to see how well they worked together and allowing certain swimmers to compete out of position.
“We were able to put in a lot of players, keep the movement going,” Teresa Codini said. “The goalies got to play in the field. That was just a fun game.”
Despite the lack of pressure, the Crimson still avoided sloppiness and played with the squad’s usual attacking style.
“We didn’t come out really weak and slow,” said junior goaltender Elana Miller. “We played our type of game.”
After getting off to a slow start earlier this season, Harvard is finally beginning to turn its fortune around, correcting many of the weaknesses that have plagued the squad.
Due to lack of training, counterattack goals doomed the Crimson to undesirable results earlier this season, but Harvard completely shut down both opponents this weekend in that regard, forcing them to score in a more settled offensive attack.
“It’s not just speed, but reaction time that we’ve been working on,” Miller said. “We’ve also been practicing not just watching the goal go in the net but swimming back to our end right away.”
The team chemistry, which was noticeably absent earlier in the season, has also improved, allowing the Crimson squad to work as a cohesive unit, rather than a group of individuals.
“We have been weeks or months behind other teams,” Teresa Codini said. “So it’s been a real struggle to get organized, in shape and to build a team from individual players.”
“This weekend our verbal and non-verbal communication was a lot better,” she added.
The Harvard team looks to continue its upward climb as it makes a west coast swing beginning March 22 at the Pomona Invitational.
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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