SEASON RECAP: Youngsters Pace Harvard

If the class of 2010 had needed a season to adjust to collegiate water polo, everyone would have understood. If freshman goalie Ariel Delgado had missed more shots than she saved, if driver Kathryn Bilder had not led the team in goals scored, and if they had not boasted 77 steals as a class, everyone would have understood.

But Delgado did have 92 saves to go with a .514 save percentage, Bilder did score a team-high 24 goals, and the class did rob opponents of the ball at an impressive rate. The only thing left to understand is that the rookie class is more than capable of bringing success to Blodget Pool in the near future.

Yet, in a season that saw Harvard make it to the Eastern Championships for the third straight year under head coach Erik Farrar, the freshmen did not have to do it alone.

Leading the way for the Crimson was junior two-meter and co-captain Lauren Snyder. Snyder scored 22 goals and tallied a team-leading 46 steals, but the numbers do not tell the whole story. Snyder, who was rarely rested, found herself in an underwater brawl in almost every game—she drew a team-best 18 ejections. The combination of statistical production and obvious grit earned Snyder an All-Northern Division First-Team nod.

Co-captain and junior driver Vivian Laio was off to a prolific start to the season with 18 goals and 16 assists through 15 games when she broke her hand against Caltech. The season-ending injury cost Laio the last 12 games of the campaign.

Even with Laio out the Crimson put together a solid second half to its season. Harvard demonstrated its depth with a balanced attack that had five Harvard players score over 20 goals: Bilder led the team with 24, sophomore two-meter Devon MacLaughlin scored 23, Snyder had 22, freshman driver Kelly Peeler put in 21, and freshman driver Roxanne Pinto had 20.

The Crimson goalies also split up the work. Delgado (.514 save percentage, 93 saves) and sophomore Nicola Perlman (.572 save percentage, 143 saves), who is also an associate magazine editor for The Crimson, shared time in the net all season.

After going 9-10 through the regular season, Harvard took third at the Northern Division Championships. The finish was not good enough to punch an automatic ticket to the Eastern Championships, but after a couple of anxious days of waiting, the selection committee awarded Harvard an at-large bid.

The eighth-seeded Crimson finished eighth, but the expereince will no doubt pay off over the next few years.

“While we got better we are still young so a lot of it is just a seasoning issue,” Farrar said. “The experience of doing it under pressure. You can’t fast grow, you have to go through experience in order to get experience.”

“Next year we hope to be back and have a better showing,” Snyder added.

—Staff writer Julia R. Senior can be reached at