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After losing its first two games in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Eastern Championship tournament, the Harvard men’s water polo team ended its season with a win over Iona Sunday morning to claim seventh in the league.
The Crimson (10-20, 6-9 CWPA) hosted the three-day tournament at Blodgett Pool and earned its highest finish in the tournament since Harvard last hosted Easterns in 2007.
“When you think about it in the context of our season, not only did we [qualify for Easterns] but we also beat our seed,” said senior two-meter Evan Zepfel, an inactive Crimson sports editor. “I can’t think of anything better than that for our team.”
HARVARD 13, IONA 10
Despite two losses and on the weekend behind them, Harvard ended the season on a positive note with an upset 13-10 win over Iona (14-16, 3-2).
The defensive-heavy game began with a low-scoring first half, in which Harvard’s pressure defense forced five Gael turnovers Senior goalie Alex Popp contributed seven saves.
Although Iona was the first to get on the board midway through the first quarter, a 3-1 Crimson run in the second gave Harvard the 4-2 lead by halftime.
The Crimson continued on to dominate the third quarter with six goals, four of which were scored on back-to-back possessions.
The Gaels came to fight in the third quarter, putting up three unanswered goals in the opening minutes of the stanza. But three Harvard goals to close the game helped the Crimson secure the victory.
Senior attackers Mike Katzer and Kevin DiSilvestro recorded three and two goals, respectively, in their last performance as Harvard players.
BUCKNELL 13, HARVARD 11
With its sights set on an upset and a comeback victory all in one, the Crimson took Bucknell (15-10, 5-3) into double overtime in the tournament’s second round on Saturday.
Six players fouled out after earning three ejections, and another two were disqualified from the game due to misconduct.
The Crimson finished the game with only enough eligible players to field a single lineup.
Katzer said he was very impressed with Harvard’s showing, considering the Crimson played with limited depth for a significant portion of the game.
“We had to finish the game with our backup goalie playing the field,” Katzer said. “We had three guys in the pool who had played maybe five minutes the entire season. This was from midway though the fourth quarter in through overtime.”
“The Bucknell game was one of the most impressive games I’ve been a part of in my career,” Zepfel added. “That’s going to go down as one of my favorite memories ever. “
With only seven men eligible to compete, the lengthy back-and-forth competition likely took a toll on Harvard’s remaining players.
Freshman two-meter John Holland-McCowan netted four goals in the game—three in the fourth quarter alone—but his efforts were not enough to overtake the Bison.
NAVY 20, HARVARD 5
Navy (24-7, 5-3) dominated the Crimson Friday afternoon on its way to claiming second place in the Eastern final.
While Harvard put forth one of its most cohesive defensive efforts this season at first, the Crimson men were simply outmatched by the strength and speed of Navy’s talent and sent into the loser’s bracket for the remainder of the tournament.
Less than one minute into the game, junior two-meter Max Eliot put Harvard up 1-0, but the Crimson was unable to come up for air after that.
Navy scored four unanswered goals following Eliot’s score and continued at such a pace for the remainder of the game.
Harvard relied on its depth, rotating through most of its roster throughout the game.
By the second half, Navy had easily worn down the Crimson, who was unable to provide an effective resistance to the Navy offense.
This, combined with long droughts in scoring, resulted in a dismal showing for the Crimson and rough start to the weekend’s play.
“They have a lot of depth, and they throw waves of players at you,” Katzer said. “We hung on for as long as we could. But at least, the younger guys learn from playing against [teams] of [Navy’s] caliber.”
—Staff writer Patrick Galvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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