Men’s Water Polo Hosts ECACs, Places 11th in Tournament

Standing Tall
Jabulani R. Barber

Senior Alex Thompson, right, and junior goalie Alexandre Popp, kept Harvard in contention during the ECAC Championships this weekend, providing timely defense and a number of key saves in the Crimson’s three contests.

Despite losing its first two matches, the Harvard men’s water polo team rebounded in convincing fashion to easily win its third and final game in the annual Eastern College Athletic Conference Men’s Water Polo Championships, held at the Blodgett Pool last weekend. Tenth-seeded Harvard finished a disappointing 11th out of 12 teams.

The Crimson (3-7) began the tournament on Friday in a highly-anticipated matchup against crosstown rival MIT, losing on the Engineers’ fourth-quarter goal in a thrilling 7-6 defeat. In Saturday’s contest, Harvard proved to be no match for 11th-seeded Mercyhurst, which resoundingly defeated the Crimson, 11-3. After the lopsided loss came Harvard’s lopsided win, a 19-3 rout over Washington and Jefferson.

The fact that the tournament was at Harvard made it that much more important to the team.

“We talked about protecting our house and not letting people come in and beat us in our home,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “We wanted to make a statement that we know what we’re doing...[and that] Harvard water polo is going to be something people here on campus are...very proud of.“


In its final match of the tournament yesterday, the Crimson dominated from the outset to the conclusion.

Indeed, after scoring twice in the first minute and a half, Harvard did not relent, netting seven goals in the first period and tacking on seven more in the second. In addition to the solid offense, the defense stifled nearly every opportunity that the opposing team had, accounting for the Crimson’s 14-2 lead at the half.

The Presidents (0-5) only managed to add one score in the second half, while 11 different Crimson players had found the back of the net by the end of the contest. Harvard’s 19 goals are the team’s most in a game this season.

Despite a shaky start to the tournament, Minnis was pleased with the team’s play in its final match.

“[We] played really hard on defense,” Minnis said. “And we didn’t let them believe they could play with us at any point. I was very proud of the way the boys played.”


After losing a nailbiter against MIT the previous day, Harvard took on Mercyhurst (4-3) looking to bounce back on Saturday. But throughout the game, the home team failed to keep up with the opposing Lakers. Only down by one after the first period, the Crimson faded in the rest of the match, only scoring once more in the final three periods while Mercyhurst scored eight times.

A part of Harvard’s problem was squandered opportunity: though the Crimson had a total of 12 6-on-5 advantages near the Lakers’ goal, Harvard scored only once with a man up. In addition, Mercyhurst utilized the drop—a defensive strategy to which the Crimson had little exposure—in which the Laker defenders crashed towards the goal to take away Harvard’s advantage.

Minnis summarized the loss succinctly: “It was ugly.”