In a tournament filled with strong performances, the Harvard men’s water polo team (19-9, 9-3 CWPA Northern) came up just short when it counted most.
The team traveled to Providence, R.I., this weekend for the CWPA Northern Division Championship. The Crimson brushed aside Connecticut College in the opening round before downing St. Francis Brooklyn later in the day, but fell to Brown (23-6, 12-0) in sudden death overtime in the final by a narrow 14-13 score.
“I think that even though we lost, the determination and the fight that we had are obvious,” senior two-meter guard Dan Stevens said. “I think that grit is going to get us through these next two weeks with the determination that says, ‘We are capable of beating any team that we play.’”
BROWN 14, HARVARD 13
Of the 13 matchups between the Crimson and the Bears over the last three years, six have come down to two points or fewer. Nearly every game between the two teams comes down to the wire, and Sunday’s final epitomized that relationship clearly.
On Sunday, Brown held the lead at the end of each of the first three periods but could not stop the Crimson from tying it up each time the Bears attempted to pull away.
With just over a minute left to play and Brown up, 10-8, Harvard stormed back yet again as sophomore utilityman Colin Chiapello cut the lead in half, and senior attacker Austin Lee equalized in the last three seconds of the game.
Then with the contest forced into overtime, Harvard overcame another two-goal deficit, with Lee producing yet another game-tying goal—this time with one second on the clock.
The game advanced to sudden death overtime, leaving the Crimson without margin for error. But Bears sophomore utility Jake Wyatt scored two minutes into the period to give Brown the title over the Crimson for the second year in a row.
Despite the loss, by reaching the title game, Harvard secured a spot in the CWPA championship, which begins on Nov. 20.
“Our ultimate goal is to win a CWPA championship,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “We’re going to get back to work tomorrow and get ready for whoever that first team is in front of us.”
HARVARD 13, ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN 8
St. Francis’s offense has given Harvard trouble all season, and the semifinal match in Providence on Saturday was no exception.
The Terrier attackers kept the score within three points through the first three quarters of the game and looked dangerous throughout, but Harvard freshman goalie Anthony Ridgley made nine saves to keep the Terriers (14-12, 8-4) out of the game.
“I’m most proud of the way we played defense this weekend,“ Minnis said. “We kept [St. Francis] under 10 goals, and when we do that, we usually do well.”
Bolstered by strong play at the back, the Crimson eventually pulled away with steady attacking play. Lee and co-captain two-meter Ben Zepfel each notched three goals to help Harvard advance to the final game on Sunday.
The victory improved the Crimson’s win streak to 10 games, tying the program record.
HARVARD 20, CONNECTICUT COLLEGE 9
In its first game of the weekend, Harvard faced a familiar opponent and came away with a familiar result. The Crimson rode one of its most dominant offensive performances of the season to an easy win over Connecticut College (1-18, 0-6) in the opening round, 20-9.
The decision was Harvard’s third victory over the Camels this season and stretches the Crimson’s record against Connecticut College to 20-0 over the last ten years.
Senior driver Paul MacMullin chipped in three goals and an assist to help the Camels put up a fight after Harvard took an early 10-3 lead, but the effort was not enough to counter the surging Harvard offense.
When the final whistle blew, four Crimson players had tallied hat tricks.
“Our offense has been pretty consistently good throughout the season,” Stevens said. “They do a good job of getting through to goal and creating good opportunities for teammates.”
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