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In its first weekend of postseason play, the Harvard women’s water polo team entered seeded as the third seed and finished in that same spot.
Competing at the CWPA Southern Division Championships in Providence, the Crimson (16-14, 3-3 CWPA) defeated Mercyhurst but then fell by four goals to Brown in the nightcap.
Harvard secured third place by beating George Washington Sunday morning, 15-11.
“We got our [fifteenth and sixteenth] wins of the year, so I’m happy with that,” Crimson coach Ted Minnis said. “I would’ve liked to be playing in the championship game instead of playing and winning third. But we played a tough Brown team last night and came up short.”
HARVARD 15, GEORGE WASHINGTON 11
The Crimson offense jumped out to an early lead and never looked back against the Colonials (14-14), riding consistent scoring to a four-goal victory in the tournament’s third place game.
Five Harvard players scored multiple goals. Junior attacker Shayna Price found the back of the net four times to lead the attack, and sophomore attacker Victoria Frager contributed a team-high three assists.
“We were pressing super hard,” freshman attacker Yoshi Andersen said. “It really started on the defensive end, and I think everybody stepped it up. We were talking a lot more, and I feel like that’s what helped us.”
The Crimson took control of the game early. Fueled by two goals from Price, Harvard scored five times in the first period of play to GW’s one.
While the two teams played an even second period, the Crimson outscored the Colonials by two goals in the third to make the score 12-6. Although GW attempted to mount an attack in the closing minutes, the deficit ultimately would prove too large to overcome.
The win marked the second time this season Harvard defeated the Colonials, with the first coming as a six-goal decision just eight days earlier.
BROWN 16, HARVARD 12
In the final game of pool play, the Crimson needed a win to advance to the championship game the next day. But the Bears (15-19) were up for the challenge, and Harvard could not pull out the win, falling by four goals.
Both teams battled to a stalemate in the first three periods of play. Although Brown posted six goals in the first frame, the Crimson stayed in the game with four goals of its own.
After Harvard outscored the Bears by one in the second period and each squad totaled five goals in the third, the game was shaping up to go down to the wire.
Although the Crimson found itself within one goal at the start of the fourth quarter, Brown’s defense took control of the game and shut Harvard out in the period. The Bears would go on to score three goals to secure the 16-12 win.
“I think two or three times we came back from three goals down,” Minnis said. “You exert a lot of energy when you’re trying to come back, and we just couldn’t get over the hump and we ran out of gas. Brown did a good job, they played real well, and they had a little bit more gas in the tank in the end.”
Co-captain Aisha Price was the high-scorer for the Crimson with four goals on the game. Sophomore Ariel Dukes posted a team-high five steals and led the way for Harvard with four saves in goal.
With the win, the Bears advanced to the championship, but would go on to lose to No. 12 Princeton, 12-4.
HARVARD 17, MERCYHURST 8
In its first game of the tournament, the Crimson dismantled the Lakers (13-13) from start to finish, cruising to a nine-goal victory.
Although Harvard had already defeated Mercyhurst, 11-3, earlier this season, the team did not take its opponent lightly in the second showdown.
Andersen led the way for the Crimson with five goals, three assists, and four steals. Shayna Price scored four times, and Aisha Price and freshman Charlotte Hendrix both found the back of the net more than once.
Although Harvard held the lead the entire game, the team was up only 6-3 after two periods. But the Crimson offense came to life in the second half, scoring six goals in the third and five more in the fourth to pull away from the Lakers.
The game was a complete team effort for Harvard, as seven different players found the back of the cage and ten people registered at least one assist.
—Staff writer David Steinbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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