The Harvard women’s water polo team didn’t let a 1-2 start to the nine-game California swing bring them down too far.
If anything, it made the team more focused, ready to adjust, and hungry for wins.
Led by the rock-solid goalkeeping of sophomore Cleo Harrington, the No. 19 Crimson (18-4) bounced back in a big way amidst the busiest schedule of the year, sweeping the last six games of its annual California run to post a 7-2 road trip record. Along the way, Harvard defeated three top-25 opponents.
“When we go on this California trip, it’s really an opportunity to play non-conference games against very good teams, to work on situational things for conference play,” Harvard coach Ted Minnis said. “I was really happy with the adjustments we made over our couple days off.”
HARVARD 9, UC SANTA BARBARA 8
With the game against No. 13 UCSB (12-9) knotted at eight with under a minute left in the fourth quarter, Minnis called a timeout to draw up a plan of attack. The Crimson took advantage of a late exclusion penalty, as junior attacker Michelle Martinelli tossed in the winning goal two seconds before the final buzzer sounded to sink the Gauchos, 9-8.
“All that was in her head, was ‘I do not want to play overtime’, and she just whipped it into the cage, and it was amazing,” senior attacker Yoshi Andersen said. “She got the fall-in shot and really just wasn’t going to leave that game without having put that shot away.”
Earlier in the fourth, in the span of 48 seconds, Martinelli struck twice to give Harvard a two-goal lead, but UCSB clawed its way back to tie the game with 32 seconds remaining.
Harrington closed out her solid weekend by adding 15 saves in goal, several of which were key breakaway one-on-one opportunities for UCSB.
HARVARD 7 , SANTA CLARA 5
Harvard built a 5-1 lead ten minutes into the game against the Broncos (6-10) on a pair of goals from Martinelli. Another pair from senior attacker Rachel Lobato helped the Crimson maintain a two-goal cushion throughout the game, as it went on to defeat Santa Clara, 7-5.
“We talk about controlling the clock, and the possessions--making them matter,” Minnis said. “Being focused on the little details was big for us on this trip and in those close games.”
The Broncos struck first on a goal from 2015 GCC Honorable Mention All-Conference senior Elizabeth Anderson, but Harvard responded with five unanswered to take control. The Crimson took advantage of lax Bronco defense on the counterattack to tally four of those scores in the first quarter.
Santa Clara scored with 0:00.4 on the clock to close out the first half, but Harvard still rode its 5-3 halftime lead to victory.
HARVARD 10, AZUSA PACIFIC 8
Women's Water Polo Finishes 1-2 on Conference Road TripEntering the week ranked fourth in the CWPA Poll, the Crimson managed to win its first contest of the weekend against Notre Dame College but fell to Indiana and Michigan, two of the three teams that separate Harvard from the top of the rankings.
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Women's Water Polo's Season Ends at CWPA ChampionshipsThe Harvard women's water polo team fell in the first round Friday before splitting its games in the consolation bracket.
Men's Water Polo Takes One of Three at Princeton InvitationalAfter falling to No. 5 Pacific and No. 11 Princeton, the Harvard men's water polo team capped its weekend with a win over Santa Clara at the Princeton Invitational.
Women's Water Polo Edges Hartwick on Late-Game Score