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The Harvard men’s water polo team’s performance at the Princeton Invitational this weekend reflected the summer days that it had not completely left behind.
With new coach Scott Russell at the helm and the fatigue of rigorous preseason training not yet dissipated, the Crimson went 0-4, beginning with a 14-4 loss to St. Francis on Saturday.
“This was a rough way to start the season,” junior captain Rick Offsay said. “St. Francis is a big, strong team.”
Harvard followed that up with an 11-7 loss to host Princeton. The Crimson led 3-1 early in the first quarter before the Tigers rebounded to finish the half tied at four.
“Fatigue caught up with us and they jumped on us in the third,” Offsay said.
With exhaustion descending on the Harvard players, Princeton tallied three unanswered goals to take control of the game.
After suffering the second loss, the Crimson matched up with Queens for a third bout.
“We tried to mix up defense and personnel,” senior David Stahl said. “At the end, we lacked emotion.”
The Knights jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, and Harvard fell by a 6-4 decision.
The Crimson played one final contest, taking on Iona on Sunday afternoon, but the Gaels defeated Harvard 9-7.
“We were closer to completing a full game and we’re proud of that,” Offsay said. “A few minutes here and there got the best of us.”
“We came out strong,” Stahl added. “We didn’t play with enough intensity.”
There were some great individual successes at the tournament. Sophomore Robbie Burmeister played exceptionally well in goal, recording 32 saves on the weekend.
Offsay led the team in scoring with six goals, while junior Mike Gerrity recorded five goals and five assists. Freshman Alasandro Lazzarine and Mike Garcia had strong showings as well.
Although the Crimson was not victorious, the team’s steady progress demonstrates its potential.
“We improved every game,” Offsay said. “This was a good experience.”
Other teams may have had the physical advantage over Harvard because of the rigorous conditioning schedule the Crimson has had over the past two weeks. Having endured three practices per day over that period, the Harvard players are certainly fatigued. However, the fruits of the Crimson’s labor may pay off throughout the season.
Harvard returns to action next weekend at Fordham.
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