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The Harvard mens water polo team traveled to Providence, R.I. this weekend to compete in the Bruno Fall Classic where it would face a mix of competition from around the country.
On the first day of the tournament, the Crimson struggled against two talented teams from California, both of whom have higher rankings than Harvard, and ultimately fell short twice. On the second day, however, Harvard turned it around to win both games and emerge with a split 2-2 record for the tournament.
The Crimson will look to ride the momentum of the second two games as it enters conference competition at home in two weeks.
HARVARD 13, NAVY 9
In Harvard’s (5-2, 1-0 CWPA) final game on Sunday afternoon, the team challenged then-undefeated Navy (8-1, 0-0 CWPA), a perennial east coast powerhouse. This year, the Midshipmen were ranked 16, but the Crimson was lurking just behind them at the 18 spot.
Mirroring how close their rankings are, the game was close throughout. The teams entered the fourth quarter tied, 8-8, but at that point Harvard took control as junior 2-meter Ben Zepfel notched three goals, bringing his tally for the game to five. Sophomore attacker Viktor Wrobel also played well for Harvard, firing for five goals of his own.
Junior goaltender Colin Woolway was a force in net for the Crimson as well, securing 10 saves and letting in only one goal during the final decisive period. Woolway has been a key part of the Harvard success so far this season.
“Woolway played really well for us,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “When you have faith that your goalie is going to be able to make blocks, it changes the way you play defense. We were very confident that he was going to make blocks and that let us push the Navy offense.”
HARVARD 17, CONNECTICUT COLLEGE 11
In the Crimson’s first game of Sunday, the team looked to rebound from its two losses the day before against Connecticut College (0-2), a weaker opponent than the teams Harvard faced during the rest of the tournament.
The Camels managed to keep the score close throughout much of the contest in its first game of the season.
But in the end, Connecticut College just did not have enough firepower to match Harvard, as the Crimson managed to seize control early and maintain a lead for the majority of the game. Zepfel led the offensive effort for Harvard, scoring seven goals in the game, followed by junior attacker Blake Lee who tallied five scores.
HARVARD 8, UC IRVINE 20
In its second game on Saturday, the Crimson faced the No. 8 team in the country, UC Irvine, and struggled right from the outset.
The Anteaters were able to jump out to an early, finishing the first half up 13-3 over Harvard. The Crimson managed to get it together during the second half, but was never able to try and close the gap as UC Irvine rolled to a 20-8 victory.
“We were a step behind [UC Irvine] in every stage of the game,” Minnis said. “They scored a majority of their goals in transition, but we managed to learn some lessons and play better in the second half. We are learning to play with top caliber teams.”
Zepfel scored a hat-trick for Harvard in his first of three high-scoring games, and sophomore attacker Joey Colton added four of his own, but it was not enough for Harvard.
HARVARD 11, SANTA CLARA 12
In the Crimson’s first game of the tournament, the team suffered a tough loss against 17th-ranked Santa Clara (3-2, 0-0), after a late spurt pushed the broncos ahead at the end.
Harvard led for a large portion of the game, and enjoyed a three-goal lead going into halftime, but could not manage to finish the game on top.
“We played a great three quarters,” Minnis said. “But we didn’t finish the game off and they ended up on top. When you’re playing against good teams and you have a lead in the fourth quarter, you sometimes play to hold on instead of attacking, and we did that.”
Lee finished with three goals in the game, and freshman utility player Harry Tafur managed to get on the board with two goals of his own.
—Staff writer Theo Levine can be reached at email@example.com.
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