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After falling short against Brown on Sunday morning at Blodgett Pool, Harvard men’s water polo team rallied in a dominant 16-6 victory over Columbia later that afternoon, securing a 2-1 record on the weekend and third place in the Ivy Championships.
The Crimson (8-16) won handily in its opening matchup against Cornell on Saturday, advancing to a semifinal contest with the No. 20 Bears (14-8). But plagued by turnovers and miscues, Harvard found itself in an insurmountable hole and dropped the second game of the tournament, 15-5.
All eight Ivy League schools were represented in the competition. Harvard, Brown, and Princeton all have varsity water polo teams, while the other five schools were represented by their respective club programs. Brown defeated Princeton to win the tournament crown, while the Crimson settled for a third-place finish for the second consecutive year.
HARVARD 16, COLUMBIA 6
After the careers of Harvard’s five seniors were celebrated in a ceremony prior to the game, the Crimson jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
Freshman attacker Evan Ramsey netted two of the team’s first three goals, while senior attacker Evan Zepfel drew an ejection and later buried a shot from distance.
The Crimson led, 6-2, at the end of the first quarter.
Harvard continued to control play in the second quarter, with goals scored by senior attacker Mike Katzer, junior 2-meter Max Eliot, and co-captain Luka Babic.
Senior goalie Alex Popp made several impressive saves in goal, turning away a number of shots from close range and frustrating the Lions’ offense.
The Crimson dominated in the second half with counter attacks and a stifling defense. Columbia failed to score a goal until the closing seconds of the game.
“They didn’t have any gas left,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “Those guys aren’t training as hard as we are. We’re supposed to win those games.”
BROWN 15, HARVARD 5
Early mistakes hurt the Crimson, which fell behind, 6-0, by the end of the first quarter.
“We turned the ball over way too many times,” Minnis said. “We spotted them six goals—you can’t win games that way.” Harvard briefly stopped the bleeding in the second quarter. Co-captain Kevin DeSilvestro assisted on a goal by Babic, Katzer scored on a counter attack, and freshman utility Max Murphy converted a penalty shot to send the Crimson into halftime down, 8-3.
But the Crimson offense struggled for the rest of the game, failing to score in the third quarter and adding only two goals in the fourth.
“It’s a big rivalry,” Babic said. “They were pressuring us and we didn’t execute well.”
Harvard’s performance was marred by turnovers and unforced errors, and Brown was quick to take advantage.
“They capitalized on our mistakes,” Minnis said. “That’s what a top team does.”
HARVARD 15, CORNELL 6
Nine players scored for the Crimson in the blowout win Saturday afternoon. DiSilvestro opened the scoring 50 seconds into the game, but the Big Red responded with an equalizer 20 seconds later.
From there, Harvard pulled away. Freshman 2-meter John Hollan-McCowan netted two goals and the Crimson held an 8-3 advantage by the end of the first quarter.
Harvard continued their attack in the second period, with freshman 2-meter Ryan Rule contributing two of the Crimson’s four unanswered goals.
Cornell was suffocated by Harvard’s defense throughout and struggled to find any rhythm.
Their frustration was obvious at times—two Big Red players got into a shouting match mid-game.
Sophomore goalie Jimmy Field turned in a solid performance in net, allowing only two goals in the half as the Crimson cruised to a 15-6 win.
Harvard will now shift its focus to a critical matchup next Saturday.
“This weekend was the final tune up for [CWPA Northern Championships], which remains the most important part of our season,” Popp said.
The Crimson needs a first-round victory against rival MIT to advance to the Eastern Championships. The team’s seniors are determined to play another game together at Blodgett Pool.
“It’s a great group of guys,” Minnis said. “They’ve stuck together and decided we’re going to finish this thing strong.”
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