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The Harvard band began to play, and a packed crowd at Blodgett pool cheered as attacker Aisha Price’s sixth and final goal pulled the Crimson within two near the end of the fourth quarter.
But it was too little, too late for the women’s water polo team to pull off the comeback victory, and Harvard fell, 12-10, to Brown on senior night, which honored co-captains Price and 2-meter defender Elise Molnar.
The Crimson (13-10, 2-1 CWPA) was down 6-4 after two quarters, but a 3-0 run by the Bears (13-13, 3-2) coming out of halftime pushed Brown’s lead to 9-4. Price cut the lead to four going into the fourth before handing out one of her two assists on the night to freshman attacker Yoshi Anderson, who trimmed the deficit to three goals.
After two quick points for the Bears, back-to-back goals from freshman attacker Charlotte Hendrix kept Harvard within striking distance as time wound down.
“We started playing defense better [in the fourth quarter],” Crimson coach Ted Minnis said. “We started working a little harder in every phase on the defensive end of the pool, and that led to easy goals for us on the other end.”
Two more goals from Price gave Harvard five points in the fourth, while the Crimson’s defense limited Brown to just three goals in the quarter.
“I think it was a matter of finding our desire,” Price said. “I don’t think it was anything strategic as much as all of us wanting to come back, and that was what we tried to do.”
Price carried the offensive burden for Harvard in the first half, scoring three of the Crimson’s four goals. A lunging save by sophomore goalie Ariel Dukes prevented a power play conversion for the Bears as time expired in the second stanza, but Harvard still faced a two-goal deficit going into the second half.
“I thought we got pretty timid in the middle of the first and into the second quarter,” Minnis said. “We let them get a little run, and so we had to play catch up the rest of the way, which is tough.”
Brown tightened its defense in the third quarter, allowing only one goal in the eight-minute period, as the Crimson struggled to adjust.
“It is always hard to lose at home,” Price said. “While I am disappointed with the loss, I think we still showed a lot of heart with the way we played. I was enjoying every minute I got to play in my last game in this pool, so even though it was a loss, it is still definitely a memorable game.”
In her senior season, Price leads the team in every statistical category with 57 goals, 34 assists, and 51 takeaways. Price—who is also a midfielder on the women’s soccer team—received the Rookie of the Year award after her 2010 season. To start her junior year, the attacker had 11 hat tricks in her first 21 games and finished with 64 goals, 24 assists, and 54 steals.
Molnar was named to the all-division second teams as a freshman and a junior, and has 22 goals, 21 assists, and 28 steals so far this year.
Minnis said Price’s and Molnar’s final home game served as a time to reflect on his three years of coaching the two senior captains.
“I am proud of both of my seniors,” Minnis said. “When I started here they were my first sophomore class, and they have gone all three years with me. They really bought in from day one with what I wanted to do and how we wanted to play. I am just really proud of them and everything they have done for our program. We are really going to miss their leadership next year.”
Playing in front of a home crowd for the first time since early February, Harvard honored Price and Molnar with a pregame ceremony that included Price’s sister Shayna—a junior attacker on the team—and Molnar’s mother. With four regular season games left, Wednesday night marked the last time the Crimson will be at home during conference play.
“The crowd was great,” Price said. “I think this is the first time I have played here with the band, and it was great that Harvard showed some love to our small sport. We really appreciated it. There was a lot of hype for this game with the student rewards, the band, and all of our friends coming and it was just an awesome night.”
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