Harvard men’s water polo wrapped up Halloweekend with two more wins against Brown University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Crimson is back on a two game win streak after going 2-2 the prior weekend during its trip to California, where they fought well against multiple top-ten ranked opponents.
“I think I speak for everyone that our California trips are the most anticipated games of the season. Being able to go back home, for most of us, and playing outdoors again, getting tan and seeing our families is a highlight every season,” reflected senior goalie Noah Hodge. “Being at home for games definitely has its benefits and the plane rides do take a toll on recovery, but in my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons.”
Harvard (17-7, 7-1 Northeast Water Polo Conference) started the match off strong against Brown (13-2, 3-4 NWPC) with two goals from sophomore center Mot Stothart and first-year utility player James Rozolis-Hill.
“Our chemistry and overall cohesion makes our team different from the other teams we’re playing against. From the seniors all the way down to the first-years, like myself, we all truly care for one another and have each other’s back through everything … We believe that we are talented enough to play and beat any team in the country,” said Rozolis-Hill when asked about his first season of experience with the program and what makes this team so successful.
Going into the second quarter, the Crimson was up 2-1 before Stothart scored his third goal of the game to make it 3-1, before junior center Kaleb Archer and junior attacker Owen Hale, brought the score back up to a two point lead with 5-3.
“Home games are always the best. You can’t replicate the feeling of defending your home pool in front of family and friends,” said Rozolis-Hill.
Harvard scored five more goals in the third quarter, before hanging on to secure the 10-8 victory in the fourth.
“So far I’m pretty happy with how our team has performed this season. I think a lot of our successes this season can be attributed to how close we all are outside of the pool,” remarked Hodge, who recently set and continues to add to the program record for most career saves.
“Over the last five years I’ve been able to see just how important team chemistry is to our success as a program. Being an Ivy League school and having limited recruiting spots and thus a smaller roster, it’s that much more important that every member of the team is contributing in the best way they can.”
The Crimson carried its success in the first game into their next match against MIT (6-14, 1-7 NWPC), where the home team took another win at Blodgett Pool, 18-10 against the Beavers.
Early in the first quarter Harvard started its offense off strong, taking a 4-1 lead before extending the gap even further to 11-3 before halftime, which was key as the Beavers exhibited a valiant effort the second half of the game.
This past weekend kept the Crimson half a game behind first-place Princeton in the NWPC, and following Harvard’s 2021 season, where the team attained its third-highest win total in program history, the anticipation for the remainder of the season is high.
“We have a lot of upperclassmen, including three super-seniors, leading the way and setting the example for our underclassmen who have stepped into their roles,” said Hodge. “I’m super excited for the rest of the season as we head into the conference tournament and truly believe we’ll be able to bring home a ring.”
“This year I’ve felt a different energy compared to last year and I’m truly grateful that we were able to get last season under our belts. It was tough coming out of Covid, basically having half of our team being brand new to college water polo, and it took time for us to adjust, get to know the new players, and get into a groove. However, now with a year under our belts, we’ve hit our stride and the team is clicking on another level.”
This weekend the Crimson will play both St. Francis College Brooklyn and Iona College on Saturday before defending Blodgett against the Princeton Tigers on Sunday.
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