SEASON RECAP: Seniors Lead Way to Easterns

Last-minute win over Brown highlights up-and-down season

With senior co-captain Michael Garcia providing leadership, the Harvard men’s water polo team turned in a successful year. The Crimson finished 9-8-1 in the regular season, besting last year’s win-loss record, and reached the Eastern Championships for the third straight season.

“I think overall we continued our success of the past two years,” Garcia said.

With coach Erik Farrar at the helm in his third year at Harvard, the men posted respectable finishes in both the Northern and Eastern Championships, placing third and seventh, respectively. The men also notched a sixth-place finish in the ECAC Championships.

“We got excellent leadership from Michael and Allessandro [Lazzarini] for what was, in essence, an extremely young group,” Farrar said.

The season started on an ambiguous note as the Crimson opened play in the Cambridge Invitational on Sept. 8. Harvard tied, 8-8, with Florida International in its first competitive match of the season. The next day, the Crimson shook off the cobwebs of inactivity and earned its first win of the season en route to eight more convincing victories.

Following the Invitational, the Crimson journeyed to Providence, R.I. to compete in the ECAC Championships. Matched up with then-No. 14 Princeton in the first round, Harvard played solidly against the Tigers with Garcia producing half of its scoring. Ultimately, the Crimson could not answer two crucial two-goal spurts by Princeton and lost, 14-8, in the opening round. Harvard rebounded later that same day, however, claiming a victory over Iona to earn the chance to vie for fifth place in the tournament. The squad could not continue its momentum into the following day, losing to Johns Hopkins, 15-7, and finishing sixth overall.

Throughout September, the Crimson followed each win with a loss, never recording consecutive victories. The team finally snapped the pattern on the last days of the month. On Sept. 29, Harvard recorded a convincing 17-5 victory over Connecticut College. The Crimson posted its second straight victory in its home opener Sept. 30 against Queens College. Harvard maintained control throughout the match, jumping out to a five-goal advantage in the first quarter. The Crimson continued its stellar play and routed the visitors, 14-4.

October played out in similar fashion: Harvard never found a groove and instead experienced a period of turbulence. The Crimson ultimately posted a 4-5 record for the month. During its foray into California, the team underwent a three-game slump, losing to Iona, La Verne, and California Baptist. The Golden State proved particularly troubling for the team—of the five matches Harvard played there, it came away with only one victory, a 9-3 decision over Occidental College.

With the disappointing road trip fresh in their minds, the men returned to Cambridge to face off against Ivy League rival Brown. In its final home game and regular-season contest, the Crimson displayed spectacular endurance and teamwork. Harvard, as it had many times before, drew its strength from its captain, Garcia.

Tied at seven goals in the third overtime and with both teams understandably worn, Garcia found the net with 54 seconds remaining in the period to close out the game.

In the postseason, the Crimson hosted the Northern Championships, finishing third. After cruising past Fordham, 8-5, the team faced off against Brown in the second round. The rematch played out differently, as the Bears dashed Harvard’s championship hopes with a 9-4 victory. The men rebounded the next day to salvage a third-place finish over crosstown rival MIT.

At Easterns, Ivy League foe Princeton squeaked by Harvard with a narrow 9-8 victory. In the second matchup, the Crimson succumbed again to Johns Hopkins, which walked away with a 11-7 victory in a tightly contested match.

In the end, Harvard, after entering the tournament seeded seventh, finished in seventh place, beating MIT in their third meeting of the year.

—Staff writer Vincent R. Oletu can be reached at