CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The No. 14-ranked Harvard University men’s water polo team earned two wins at home in Blodgett Pool by defeating Iona College, 12-6, and No. 19 St. Francis College Brooklyn, 15-13, to keep the Crimson’s hopes of acquiring the top seed for the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) Championship alive.
Facing Iona in the day’s opening game, sophomore Charlie Owens led the Crimson with five goals. Owens netted the first two goals of the game, along with the game-winning seventh goal.
Four other players netted goals for the Crimson: sophomore Austin Sechrest, junior Grant Harvey and senior captain Harry Tafur each scored two, while senior captain Colin Chiapello found the back of the net for one goal.
At halftime, Harvard was up 7-5 over Iona. Owens once again got the ball rolling for the Crimson, netting the first goal of the second half. Tafur followed up with a goal of his own, before Sechrest could net his second goal of the game. One more goal in the third quarter for the Crimson by Harvey gave the Crimson an 11-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Suri in net held the Gaels scoreless during the final quarter of play, allowing the Crimson to net one final goal from Tafur for the victory.
Sophomore goalkeeper Nikhil Suri made ten saves to earn the victory and help Harvard move to 37-19 all-time against the Gaels.
Facing NWPC leader St. Francis Brooklyn, Owens opened the contest with his ninth goal of the weekend, evading two Terriers’ defensemen to make the shot from five meters out after a whistle. Junior goalkeeper Anthony Ridgley made his presence known, shutting down a Terriers’ five-meter penalty shot near the end of the first quarter. The Crimson countered with a goal from senior captain Harry Tafur as Harvard went into the halftime break with a 6-5 edge on St. Francis Brooklyn.
After halftime, the Crimson called a timeout before a power play opportunity. Harvard was able to set up a play on the six-on-five to give Chiapello the opportunity in front of the net to toss in the ball off a pass from Tafur. Chiapello quickly followed up with another goal, before freshman Jackson Enright notched a score as time expired on another power play.
Harvard opened a four goal lead with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, dominating the offensive presence to secure a 14-10 score on the way to a 15-13 win.
Eight different players scored for the Crimson against the Terriers, led by three goals from freshman Dennis Blyashov.
Ridgley made eight saves as the Crimson improve to 13-33 all-time against the Terriers.
The win places St. Francis (8-1), Harvard (6-2) and No. 12 Princeton (6-2) into a potential deadheat on top of the division standings with one week of regular season league action left on the docket.
Currently, Harvard and St. Francis Brooklyn stand at 1-1 against one another with goal differential even as the Terriers picked up a 13-11 win prior to the Crimson’s 15-13 victory. Harvard and Princeton tilts slightly in favor of the Tigers thanks to an 11-9 win and a 10-9 loss for a +1 goal differential. St. Francis Brooklyn and Princeton have met only once so far this year with the Terriers collecting a 13-10 win in Brooklyn.
This week will decide the final placements of five of the six NWPC programs (Iona is a lock for the No. 6 seed with a 0-9 NWPC record) as Princeton faces Iona on Wednesday, November 1, at home in the Garden State prior to hosting St. Francis Brooklyn on Saturday, November 4. Harvard takes on Division III No. 3 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2-6) at home in Blodgett Pool and treks down the road to No. 15 Brown (3-5) on Saturday, while Brown will welcome MIT to Providence, R.I. the same day.
Information courtesy Harvard University Athletics Communications