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Brown Tops Harvard

By Megha Parekh, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard women’s water polo team’s first three season opening games proved that while the Crimson can best most of its Ivy League competitors, it still has a ways to go before knocking No. 15 Brown from its place as league powerhouse.

The Crimson (2-1) took second place behind the Bears (4-0) at this past weekend’s season opening Ivy League Tournament at Yale, losing in the championship game 8-1. The loss came after two Harvard wins—a decisive 9-3 victory over Yale and a 17-4 trouncing of Cornell, respectively— on Saturday.

Brown 8, Harvard 1

Since Brown was the only other official varsity team at the tournament—club teams represented the other Ivy schools—the Crimson knew the nationally ranked Bears would be its toughest competitor.

Harvard’s lone goal in the game came from sophomore driver Sarah Kennifer, who scored a total of six goals on the weekend, second highest on the team.

Sophomore goalie Lydia Gardner posted six saves throughout the game, but her efforts were not enough to stop Brown from dominating Harvard by the end of the contest.

While the Crimson played competitively for the first three quarters of the game, the team collapsed in the final seven minutes. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the score was 4-1. The Bears were able to double their score while shutting down the otherwise effective Crimson offense.

“Brown had a lot more girls to substitute in whenever they grew fatigued,” sophomore Cristina Codini said. “Their deep bench allowed them to outlast us in the pool.”

Harvard recognized Brown’s higher level of play this early in the season. Nevertheless, some members of the Crimson questioned much of the game’s action.

“The big problem was that Brown plays a much more aggressive game then we have practiced. The referees were letting a lot of contact slide without calling fouls, and that put us at a disadvantage,” senior Liz Anderson said.

Anderson, however, looks forward to Harvard’s next meeting with the Bears when the Crimson will be “better prepared for their questionable tactics.”

While the game against Brown proved to be frustrating for the Crimson, Harvard’s performance in the first two games of the tournament gave it confidence that it has the capability to topple Brown the next time they meet.

Harvard 9, Yale 3

Though still a club team, Yale did not allow Harvard to swim to an easy victory.

In wasn’t until the last two quarters of its first game that the Crimson settled down and took a commanding lead.

Again, Kennifer’s offense proved to be vital to the victory, as she led the team with four goals behind a strong left-handed shot.

Junior Teresa Codini added three goals, with sophomore Cristina Codini and junior Diane Dewey contributing one goal each.

Gardner and senior Elana Miller split time in goal, making five and six saves respectively.

Anderson noted that Yale’s ability to compete could work to Harvard’s advantage.

“With the recognition and support Yale received from their own athletic department as a result of this event, [I hope that] they will be upgraded to varsity status,” she said. “Then we’ll get to beat them even more often.”

Still, the fact that the tournament was filled predominantly with club teams—who are less experienced than varisty teams—allowed the Crimson to experiment with various strategies.

“We were able to try a lot of different setups like pressing in the lanes and gap defense which would encourage the counter,” Cristina Codini said. “We even brought the goalies out into the field.”

Harvard 17, Cornell 4

Behind a complete team effort—seven different players scored goals—the Crimson cruised over Cornell to an easy victory.

Teresa Codini led the team with five goals, while sophomores Cristina Codini and Molly Mehaffey tallied three goals apiece.

Harvard didn’t just score—it scored in style. Mehaffey’s goal came on a powerful backhand shot out of the hole set position. Teresa Codini, Cristina Codini, and Dewey all snuck the ball in with lob shots that sailed just past the goalie’s outstretched hands.

“The game against Cornell gave us another chance to work out the kinks in both our offense and defense,” Anderson said.

The tournament on the whole was a positive start for the Crimson, despite the loss in the championship to Brown.

Kennifer’s performance was admired by many of her teammates, who were eager to credit a portion of the two victories to her play. Her six goals were paired with three assists and eight steals during the three games.

“Sarah was awesome this weekend,” Dewey said. “She scored multiple goals…but the best part is that she is an awesome team player and set up opportunities for everyone.”

The Yale Invitational also gave Harvard a chance to examine some weaknesses that need to be improved upon.

“It’s early in the season so our major improvements lie in execution,” Dewey said. “We have been pretty good at recognizing opportunities thus far, but more practice and games together means that we’ll able to capitalize on those opportunities more consistently and put some balls in the back of the net.”

Anderson echoed her view, saying, “As we prepare for an invitational tournament at Princeton on Saturday, we will build on everything we learned this weekend. We are becoming much more comfortable with the coaching style of new head coach Scott Russell and with our own strategies.”

The Crimson hope to take the experience gained from the past weekend’s games when they meet again with Brown at the Princeton Invitational next weekend.

—Staff writer Megha Parekh can be reached at parekh@fas.harvard.edu

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Women's Water Polo