After a winning 2014 campaign, the Harvard men’s water polo team ran up against elite competition in its opening weekend at the Bruno Classic.
Over the two-day competition, which included games at both Brown’s Katherine Moran Aquatics Center and Harvard’s Blodgett Pool, Harvard (1-2) dropped contests against No. 19 Bucknell (2-2) and No. 4 Stanford (5-0) on Saturday but rebounded with a win against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2-3) on Sunday.
HARVARD 12, CLAREMONT-M-S 10
Three unanswered goals in the second quarter proved to be the difference in Harvard’s first win of the season, a 12-10 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in Providence.
In the seventh all-time meeting between the Crimson and the Stags, senior attacker Blake Lee led the Crimson offense with five goals, beginning with two in the second quarter. Lee’s first goal broke a 2-2 stalemate, and his next provided Harvard’s final lead of the game.
A third quarter push by Claremont resulted in a one-goal game, yet the Crimson held on in the final minutes. Lee contributed another pair of goals, and co-captain Ben Zepfel netted three to protect Harvard’s lead.
On defense, freshman Nick Bunn made a game-saving block and steal to prevent the Stags from tying the game. Freshman goalie Anthony Ridgley recorded 10 saves.
“Throughout preseason, we put in a ton of hours towards both our conditioning and skill work, which gave us confidence and excitement heading into the weekend,” Bunn said.
STANFORD 21, HARVARD 5
After an early goal by the Crimson, the Cardinal rallied with an 8-0 run and never lost the lead in Harvard’s home opener at Blodgett Pool. Coming off a 30-9 victory over MIT earlier in the day, Stanford continued the offensive onslaught with five goals from Kyle Weikert and four apiece from senior Bret Bonani and junior redshirt Adam Abdulhamid.
Harvard’s margin of defeat was its largest since a 20-2 loss to Pepperdine in 2011.
“Overall, we can agree that we didn't perform to the standards we set for ourselves heading in,” Bunn said. “We struggled to follow the tactics and goals we wanted to accomplish, causing some unwanted issues before eventually losing the game.”
Zepfel, junior co-captain Joey Colton, and senior attacker Noah Harrison all scored in the first half. Freshmen two-meter defender Grant Harvey and attacker Grayson Judge contributed in the second half with their first career goals.
HARVARD 10, BUCKNELL 8
In Harvard’s season opener in Providence, the Crimson held steady with the Bison at eight goals apiece through three quarters before being held scoreless in the final period. Juniors Sean Daley and R.J. Moore scored the fourth quarter difference-makers for Bucknell, while senior Stefan Aleksic led the Bison with a hat trick.
Harrison, meanwhile, contributed three goals for the Crimson. The performance was encouraging for the senior, who missed the 2014 season due to injury. Junior two-meter defender Dan Stevens also contributed a goal to give the Crimson a 3-2 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the Bisons take the lead, but goals from Chiapello, Colton, Bunn and freshman attacker Nathan Ondracek tied the game by the end of the third quarter.
“As a team we did not play remotely close to our full potential,” Harvey said. “But as our coach Ted Minnis tells us, ‘The season is like a staircase, you start at the bottom and have to just start climbing’.... It’s not where you start, but where you finish, and we want to finish on top.”
—Staff writer Katherine H. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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