No. 18 Princeton University Escapes No. 17 Harvard University, 9-7, to Reach 2013 Collegiate Water Polo Association Championship Semifinals

Alex Gow
Alex Gow

2013 Collegiate Water Polo Association Championship Schedule & Results

Scoresheet (JPG)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Drew Hoffenberg (Jr., Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./The Bishop's School) and Thomas Nelson (So., Walnut Creek, Calif./De La Salle) both notched hat-tricks to share Player of the Game accolades as the No. 18-ranked Tigers of Princeton University claimed a 9-7 victory over No. 17 Harvard University in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Championship at Brown University.

Courtesy the win, Princeton advances to face the No. 16-ranked Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy at 5:40 p.m. on Saturday, November 23, in the tournament quarterfinals. It will mark the fourth meeting of the year between Princeton and Navy as the Tigers hold a 2-1 advantage to date by sweeping the regular season meetings (12-7 W, 16-11 W) and falling in the Southern Division Championship semifinals (12-10 L) hosted by the eventual Southern Division Champion Midshipmen.

Trailing 4-3 at halftime, Princeton fell behind 5-3 slightly more than two minutes into the third quarter as Dan Stevens (Fr., Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor) lobbed a ball past Princeton goalie Alex Gow (So., Portola Valley, Calif,/Menlo-Atherton) with 5:54 on the clock.  Nelson trimmed the Tigers' deficit back to one at 5-4 by beating Harvard netminder Colin Woolway (So., Pasadena, Calif./Polytechnic School) at 2:41, but Stevens struck again at 2:22 with a man-up score to return the spread to a pair (6-4) and set-up a pitched final two minutes of the quarter marked by four scores.

Following a score by Hoffenberg at 1:59 to make it 6-5, John Holland-McCowan (Jr., Atherton, Calif./Menlo School) of the Crimson answered with 44 ticks on the period clock to once again provide Harvard a two-goal lead at 7-5. However, Hoffenberg countered Holland-McCowan with his second tally of the quarter and third of the game with 24 seconds left to complete a hat-trick and inch Princeton to within 7-6 entering the final quarter of action.

It took the Tigers until the 2:36 mark of the final frame to balance the scoreboard at seven-all as Jamie Kuprenas (So., Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) beat Woolway to put Princeton on the doorstep of the tournament's semifinals.

It took Curtis Fink (Fr., Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor) to deliver a date with Navy, however, as the first-year player broke free and made the most of a six-on-five chance following the exclusion of Noah Harrison (So., Huntington Beach, Calif./Huntington Beach) at 1:46 for a man-up strike with 1:27 remaining in regulation to place Princeton in front at 8-7 for the first time since a 3-2 lead 1:17 into the second quarter.

Gow and the Princeton defense did the rest as the Tigers' kept the Crimson's shooters at bay the rest of the way until Nelson completed a hat-trick and put an exclamation point on the win with an empty-net score to complete a hat-trick as the final buzzer sounded.

The final 16 minutes of action exhibited a a marked difference from the first half as the Crimson dominated Princeton from the opening sprint until the onset of the Tigers' second half comeback.

Stevens opened the game for Harvard by arching in a shot with 6:18 left in the first quarter to stake the Crimson to a 1-0 lead.  Hoffenberg responded at 5:04 to pull Princeton even, but Harrison needed less than a minute to give Harvard back with lead at 2-1 with 4:08 remaining in the opening period of  play.

Once again, the Tigers clawed their way back to knot the score at two-all prior to the conclusion of the quarter as Nelson struck again with 3:05 to go.

Princeton acquired the lead to start the second quarter as Kayj Shannon (Jr., Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) struck with 6:43 glowing down from the scoreboard.  However, Harvard unleashed a barrage against Gow to go back in front as the sophomore turned aside six shots and permitted a pair of markers over the remaining duration of the quarter.

Harrison pulled Harvard even with 2:45 to go until halftime via a successful five-meter penalty shot prior to an even-strength strike by Ben Zepfel (So., Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar) with 42 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave the Crimson a 4-3 lead at the break and set-up the Tigers' second half comeback.

The loss drops Harvard into the consolation side of the championship bracket as the squad will clash with Cambridge, Mass. crosstown nemesis/Division III No. 8-ranked the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which fell by a 19-11 final score to Navy in the quarterfinals, at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 23, with a spot in the fifth place game on the line.  The Crimson are 3-0 against the Engineers this year with 13-10, 10-7 and 9-6 victories in their three meetings to date this year.

1 2 3 4 -- Final
No. 18 Princeton University
-- 9
No. 17 Harvard University
-- 7

Harvard Goals: Dan Stevens (3); Noah Harrison (2); Ben Zepfel; John Holland-McCowan

Princeton Goals: Thomas Nelson (3); Drew Hoffenberg (3); Jamie Kuprenas; Curtis Fink; Kayj Shannon

Saves: Harvard - Colin Woolway (2) ; Princeton - Alex Gow (10)

Exclusions: Harvard - 4 ; Princeton - 6

Advantage Opportunities: Harvard - 2-for-6 ; Princeton - 1-for-4

Sprints: Harvard - 1-for-4 (1st) ; Princeton - 3-for-4 (2nd, 3rd, 4th)

Officials: Alex Stankevitch, Hadi Farid


Harvard University's William Roller

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