The Harvard men’s water polo team topped Iona College, 7-5, on Sunday (Nov. 4) to finish 2-1 this past weekend at the Northern Division Championships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The physical win over the Gaels (the game was marked by a handful of ejections) assured the Crimson the No. 6 seed in the upcoming Eastern Division Championships Nov. 15-17 at Blodgett Pool.
In beating Iona, Harvard avoided a No. 8 seeding, which would have pitted the Cambridge club against chugging-along Navy (currently ranked 10th in the country). With the sixth spot, Harvard will battle No. 3 Johns Hopkins. The winner of the Eastern Division champs receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.
Against Iona, the Harvard team jumped out to an early 4-1 lead before extending its advantage to 7-3 in the final stanza. The Gaels then rattled off two late tallies to cut it to 7-5, but Harvard goalkeeper Jay Connolly ’09 (eight saves on the afternoon) managed to dam up the surge and preserve the lead as time ran out.
On the offensive front, freshman Bret Voith paced Harvard’s versatile attack with a pair of goals. In addition to Voith, five Crimson players recorded goals in the win, including seniors Michael Byrd and Chris Ludwick, junior David Tune, and sophomores Mitch Denti and Spencer Livingston.
Harvard also exhibited effective team play to open up weekend competition opposite Fordham on Saturday (Nov. 3). In that match, the Crimson pestered the Rams’ net early and often with precise cross passing to take an 8-2 advantage at the half. Fordham tightened things up in the latter half to close the gap to three points, but a pair of goals by Livingston (three on the afternoon) served to reassert the Crimson offense en route to a 13-10 victory. Livingston and Voith conspired for seven goals in the win, while Connolly collected nine saves. Harvard suffered its lone loss of the series against Brown in the evening game on Saturday (Nov. 3). The Bears, who narrowly beat the Crimson in October (7-8 in OT), easily dispensed with Harvard in this most recent showdown. Down 3-1 in the first, Harvard watched as Brown fired off five consecutive goals. The subsequent lead would prove insurmountable for the Crimson, who ultimately fell, 10-6.