Tied 5-5 early in the fourth quarter against No. 10 Princeton, Harvard women’s water polo had a chance to achieve a signature win early in the season. Instead, the No. 19 Crimson (4-2) failed to keep pace with the undefeated Tigers, ultimately falling 7-6.
“Although this past weekend didn't result in a win, we showed that we can compete with Princeton,” sophomore Kristen Hong said. “We made a couple of mistakes that led to our...loss. Yet we are very happy with our performance this past weekend and still have so much room for improvement.”
At Denunzio Pool on Saturday morning, Princeton (7-0) opened the game with two quick goals, immediately showing its offensive strength. Throughout the second quarter, however, junior goaltender Cleo Harrington made multiple saves to keep Harvard in contention for a top-10 upset.
The first Crimson goal of the game came from senior Michelle Martinelli, which Princeton answered right away with an opposing score. Still, freshman Julie Harrison helped Harvard re-close the score gap, bringing the halftime score to 3-2.
Coming out strong in the second half, Hong responded to a Princeton goal with a quick shot off a pass from Martinelli. In this way, Hong extending her goal total on the season to 12.
With two minutes left in the third quarter, sophomore Haley Bowe scored to tie the game at 4-4, but Princeton quickly reciprocated when a bounce off the crossbar landed in the net. That finish meant that the third quarter ended with the Tigers clinging to a 5-4 advantage.
Freshman Sofia Carrera-Justiz opened the final quarter with a goal that re-tied the score at 5-5. A defensive battle between the two teams lasted for most of the remaining frame. The netminder Harrington tallied 11 stops and two steals throughout the game.
With only three minutes left to go in the game, Princeton scored twice to take a 7-5 lead. Harvard made a final offensive push with Martinelli finding the back of the net one last time with under a minute of play remaining. However, her goals was not enough to pull of the upset.
However exhausting the close defeat proved, the Crimson has a chance at redemption next weekend in a rematch with the Tigers. Already, the prospect seemed to energize Hong.
“We are extremely excited to get another shot at Princeton this Friday at our home pool, Blodgett,” the sophomore said.
—Staff Writer Rena Simkowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.