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VILLANOVA, Pa. — No. 21-ranked Harvard University opened the 2022 women’s water polo season with a two-game sweep of host Villanova University, posting victories of 20-11 and 16-4. The Crimson was originally slated to play Iona College in game two, as it was eventually moved to a classic double-header with the Wildcats. The fixture with Iona has been canceled with no reschedule date.

Alexis Kieckhafer got the start in net for the Crimson in game one, and Harvard opened its 2022 scoring account through Brooke Hourigan at the 3:58 mark in the first quarter. A goal from Kaity Greenwald and two from Grace Thawley had the Crimson ahead 4-3 after the first quarter.

The same troika of Hourigan, Thawley and Greenwald got on the scoresheet in the second quarter along with Dany Zapata who netted her first career-goal just before the break. Harvard held a 9-6 halftime with three saves from Kieckhafer.

Anne-Charlotte Gillard got the nod in net for the second half, making her collegiate debut for the Crimson. Ella Prentice and Inde Halligan scored within the first few minutes of the second half, followed up by another from Zapata. Evan Tingler capped-off a 3-0 Harvard run to pull out to a 14-8 advantage with 2:42 left in the third quarter. With the breathing space, Harvard was able to take control in the final quarter. Thawley, Zapata and Hourigan would add goals in the final frame, securing the 20-11 victory behind four saves from Gillard in the final 16.

Thawley led the Crimson with six goals in the game, netting three in each half, while junior Borden Wahl registered two goals and a team-high two assists.  Halligan anchored the defense with three steals.

Zapata and Hourigan each registered a hat-trick in the victory.

Gillard made her collegiate debut in net, coming in after halftime to make four saves. Kieckhafer recorded three saves in the opening 16 minutes.

The Crimson picked up where it left off in game one, getting out to a 3-0 advantage in the first eight minutes of the second contest after an Erin Kim goal with 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Zoe Banks drew the start in goal, making three saves to shutout the Wildcats in the first period. Wahl netted her third goal of the day to begin the second quarter, and Tingler tacked on her second and third strikes of the game to make it 6-0. The first-year duo of Kim and Kaity Greenwald deposited shots into the cage before halftime to help propel Harvard to a 9-1 advantage.

The second half brought more of the same as Harvard outscored Villanova 5-0 in the third period, highlighted by goals from Thawley, Zapata and Halligan. Jaiden Miller and Sasha Constandse added their first goals of the season in the fourth quarter to help Harvard build a 16-2 lead. The Wildcats were able to add a couple late goals, making the final score 16-4, as the Crimson completed the doubleheader sweep.

Banks made six saves in net to hold the Wildcats to four goals, while Kim netted a hat-trick to go along with two steals.

Tingler totaled three goals while leading the Crimson with two assists and three steals.

Historically, Harvard opens its season with a 2-0 record for the fourth straight season. The Crimson got off to a 5-0 start in 2020 before suffering a defeat.

The Crimson took care of business on the power-play, posting a 13-for-25 (52%) scoring percentage with the advantage.

Harvard improves to 29-2 all-time against Villanova, bringing its current winning streak to 26 games against the Wildcats.

Release courtesy Harvard University Athletics Communications

Collegiate Water Polo Association