In yesterday’s early morning game against No. 6 Michigan, Harvard women’s water polo was finally able to apply those lessons it learned playing big-name teams on its California road trip earlier this season.
Although the Crimson was unable to pull out a win over the Wolverines (25-4), it was at least able to offer a solid 13-10 competition just as it did against No. 2 Cal and No. 9 San Jose State over spring break.
“In California, we learned how to play with teams like Michigan,” junior attacker Monica Zdrojewski said. “Over the course of the trip, we learned how to…shut [those teams] down.”
The Crimson went 1-2 in its opening series of Collegiate Water Polo Association conference games this weekend against No. 18 Princeton, Bucknell and Michigan at the Bison’s Kinney Natatorium. Harvard claimed its sole victory over the competition’s host, Bucknell.
“It was a good weekend for us,” sophomore attacker Aisha Price said. “We improved in a short period of time, and we’re getting more confidence within ourselves as we go.”
MICHIGAN 13, HARVARD 10
The Crimson had to come prepared to face the Wolverines, one of its toughest opponents on Harvard’s schedule.
“Bucknell did a good job of making us think on defense,” Price said. “We had to know where to pass the ball, where to drop the ball, where to help each other out. After getting so many ejections in that game, in the Michigan game, we used those lessons and were on our toes and able to play smart defense.”
“We played really well and only lost by three, which is a huge credit to our team,” she added.
The Crimson defense worked primarily to stop Wolverine counterattacks, as size and speed were both on Michigan’s side, according to Zdrojewski.
“Offensively, we were hoping to build off our defense,” the junior said. “We wanted to get a lot of movement going, get them out of their comfort zone, and I think we were successful in doing that.”
The women may have successfully shut down Wolverines’ defense, but their efforts against the Michigan offense were not enough and landed Harvard on the wrong side of its second three-point game of the weekend.
HARVARD 16, BUCKNELL 13
A game marked by numerous ejections and a few near-kickouts for Harvard players, Saturday afternoon’s matchup against Bucknell (10-12) allowed for a total of seven Crimson players to contribute goals to the final 16-13 tally.
“There were a lot of people who had two ejections, so we had to dig deep into our bench for players,” said Price, who led Harvard with five goals against the Bison. “That allowed people to a get a lot of minutes and others to get a lot of scoring opportunities.”