Women's Water Polo Closes Season at CWPA Championship

The Harvard women’s water polo team saw its season come to an end this weekend at the CWPA Championship at Bucknell. The team entered the tournament as the seventh seed, and finished the weekend 1-2, coming in seventh place overall.


The Crimson (15-20, 2-3 CWPA South) wrapped up its season with the team’s only win of the weekend over the Camels (15-10). During the game, Harvard never gave up the lead, going ahead immediately and protecting the advantage throughout.

The first half of the game belonged to the Crimson, as co-captain Shayne Price and freshman attacker Melissa Balding propelled the offense. Earlier this week, Balding was named the CWPA Southern Division Freshman of the Year.

At the end of the first eight minutes, the team was up, 6-3, after Price and Balding each had a pair of goals. The offense kept rolling in the second quarter, outscoring the Camels, 4-3, to go into halftime with a 10-6 lead.

Coming out of the break, Harvard’s defense held Connecticut College’s offense to only one goal over the course of the final 16 minutes of play. A 4-0 run by the Crimson sealed the team’s victory and sent it into seventh place for the championship overall.

“It’s good to be able to end the season with a victory, because the last thing we are going to remember is a win,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “It was the last time this group will be playing together…so there was a lot to play for in this last game and to enjoy.”


This contest marked the third time this season that the two teams have matched up against each other, and the third time the Bison (13-12, 3-2) has come out victorious.

The game began as a tight one, with each team coming out and scoring two goals early in the first quarter, but was a goal scored by Price with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter that put the Crimson ahead.

Harvard’s lead would not stand for long, as two goals from Bucknell attacker Eleanor Marrs put the Bison up, 4-3. Balding answered with a goal of her own to knot the score in the second period.

“I think that games that come down to the end are compiled of a lot of little things that add up throughout the game,” Price said. “That’s the sport. It comes down to a call the ref makes, or a shot that doesn’t fall—which are things that are out of our control.”

The back and forth nature of the game continued up to halftime, as the teams traded scores twice before the second quarter came to a close. A last-second goal by Bucknell gave the team a one-goal advantage going into the second half.

As the teams battled in the third, Harvard saw goals from Price, junior attacker Victoria Frager, and sophomore attackers Charlotte Hendrix and Yoshi Andersen. But every goal the Crimson got past the Bison net was countered, bringing the score to a tie at 11 with a little more than a minute left in the game. A last second effort by Bucknell’s offense got a goal past Harvard goalie Ariel Dukes, cementing the victory and a berth in the fifth-place game for the Bison.


Coming into the game ranked second in the tournament pool and eleventh in the NCAA, the Tigers (31-1, 5-0) had won each of their three previous matchups against the Crimson.

Saturday’s game followed the same storyline as the others, with Princeton’s physical offense overpowering Harvard’s defense early in the game and continuing to do so throughout the contest.

It took a quarter for the Tigers to get their bearings offensively, but a 4-0 run going into halftime put the Crimson down by six goals going into the break.

Harvard broke through in the second half, outscoring Princeton 2-1 in the third quarter. But the offensive effort from the Crimson was too little, too late, as the Tigers went on to win the fourth quarter 3-2 on their way to taking the game.

Balding led the team in scoring with her fifth hat trick of the season, while Price chipped in two goals in the losing effort.

“We didn’t beat any of the teams that were ahead of us,” Minnis said. “This year we lost a lot of close games to good teams and fought hard in most games. It is what it is. I’m proud of this group.”

—Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at