Women's Water Polo's Season Ends at CWPA Championships

­With its CWPA Eastern Championship hopes on the line, the Harvard women’s water polo team was unable to erase a two-goal halftime deficit against No. 20 Hartwick on Friday in Princeton, N.J.

Although the team would rebound in the consolation bracket on Saturday, the Crimson (20-13, 6-3 CWPA) came two goals shy of closing out the season with a win on Sunday, falling to Brown in the fifth-place game to take sixth overall in the tournament.

“Our team has definitely made some huge strides this year,” sophomore Michelle Martinelli said. “We definitely saw some glimmers of that this weekend, but I don’t think the outcome of the weekend reflects how much effort and hard work we put into this season.”


The Crimson entered the final frame of its final contest of the year tied. Despite a late goal from junior Yoshi Andersen, the Bears (20-17, 4-5 CWPA) prevailed after adding two in the frame, handing the Crimson a loss to end its season with a sixth-place finish.


“This game, we got unlucky on a few calls and a few shots, and they hit their shots,” Martinelli said. “We played our game, and they played their game; they just got luckier than we did.”

Freshman goalkeeper Marisol Dakan shut the door on the Harvard offense, recording 10 saves in the game to lead her team to victory. The rookie provided four crucial saves in the last eight minutes to preserve the one-goal lead for Brown.

Harvard rode Andersen and Martinelli on offense for the duration of the game, as the two were the only ones to register goals for the Crimson.


On Saturday, Martinelli opened her scoring early in the game with two tallies in the first quarter. She wouldn’t slow down.

The second-year star found the back of the net a season-high five times, leading the team to a rebound win over Bucknell (14-14, 3-6 CWPA) on the second day of Easterns.

“It’s been a really tough season for me because I’ve been dealing with some injuries,” Martinelli said. “I’ve finally been getting on the right track this past month and a half.... I take every game as an opportunity to give it my all because I really appreciate it now.”

The Crimson opened the game with three goals in the first eight minutes of the contest. Harvard would not concede the lead for the rest of the game, due in large part to Andersen’s three second quarter goals, which proved to be the margin going into halftime.

The third-year would add another goal in the second half to finish with four on the game. Martinelli and Andersen combined to outscore the Bison, 9-7.


Down 11-8 entering the fourth quarter, Martinelli found the back of the net to cut No. 20 Hartwick’s (20-19, 6-4 CWPA) lead to two. But the Hawks’ tally with six minutes left in the frame proved to be the backbreaker for Harvard’s comeback efforts. Senior Kalina Grabb earned Harvard’s last goal to bring the score to 12-10, but it was too little, too late as the Crimson would fall by that very score minutes later.

The Crimson came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, opening the game on a 3-1 run. But after Hartwick scored three straight, Harvard would not hold the lead again for the rest of the contest.
Harvard kept it close in the beginning of the second half, as sophomore Melissa Balding netted one of her four goals to help tie the game at five goals apiece. But Hartwick did not let the Crimson hang around for too long, as the Hawks countered with a three-goal run of their own, holding the outright lead for the remainder of the game.

Despite the loss, Harvard ensured that it would achieve its first 20-win season since 2004 with its win over Bucknell.

“We’re just scratching the surface of what Harvard water polo can be able to accomplish,” Andersen said. “The loss is heavy on our minds now, but looking back on everything, we improved so much as a whole team. We’re confident we’ll be able to improve in the years to come.”

—Staff writer Kurt T. Bullard can be reached at


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