Nine months after bowing out in the NCAA Final Four, No. 10 Harvard men’s water polo opened 2017 play at home in the Bruno Classic.
The event was hosted jointly by the Crimson and Brown, with games split between Blodgett Pool and the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center. However, all of Harvard’s contests took place on campus.
On Saturday, the Crimson hardly felt at home, dropping two games. But Harvard rebounded on Sunday with two wins to finish out the tournament. Several freshmen scored for the Crimson to commemorate their collegiate debuts.
“It’s early in the year, so [the record] isn’t too concerning,” co-captain Harry Tafur said. “We have a long road ahead of us, a long season. Overall, we did pretty well, but we still have a lot of things to work on.”
HARVARD 14, WAGNER 9
After facing two tough opponents on Saturday, Harvard maintained a healthy lead for the entirety of the match against the Seahawks. Freshman Dennis Blyashov, junior Nick Bunn, and Tafur all recorded hat tricks for the Crimson.
“We were all definitely motivated after a tough loss Saturday night to Pepperdine,” Tafur said. “We wanted to...get some good outcomes.”
Between the posts, junior goalkeeper Anthony Ridgley recorded 14 saves. The hosts advanced to 4-0 in all-time matchups with Wagner.
HARVARD 19, MCKENDREE 5
Harvard began day two of the Bruno Classic with a dominating performance against McKendree. The Crimson demonstrated its depth, as seven different players—including junior Grayson Judge and sophomores Austin Sechrest and Charlie Owens—scored against the Bearcats in the first half alone. By intermission, Harvard held a 12-1 advantage.
“Sunday definitely [brought] games that we knew we should win and wanted to win by a lot,” captain Harry Tafur said. “We really wanted to go in and just fix the things that went wrong the night before.”
Freshmen continued to make a splash in the pool. Rookie Ben Wagner scored his first collegiate goal against McKendree and ended the game with three goals and one assist. Bylashov and classmate Bruno Snow combined for six assists in the match. Owens led the team offensively with six goals to choke out McKendree, 19-5.
“It was cool to see our freshmen get in there and get their first college action,” Sechrest said. “All four of them scored over the weekend, and two of them dropped hat tricks. That was fun to see.”
PEPPERDINE 16, HARVARD 7
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