Senior Jeff Lee (pictured) scored three goals against MIT on Sept. 17 (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's water polo team hosts cross-town rival MIT for the second time in 2010, this time for a non-conference tilt beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at Blodgett Pool.
Junior Alexandre Popp made an astounding 21 stops in goal for the Crimson during its four-overtime, sudden-death, 11-10 loss to Iona Saturday. The 21 saves brought Popp's season total to 96. Popp also scored a goal in the game, his first of the season, from across the pool 30 meters away.
A Rivalry Closer Than Just Distance
Since 2003, 15 of the last 17 games between Cambridge rivals MIT and Harvard have been decided by three goals or fewer. The Crimson is 5-10 in those 15 games, but an even 3-3 in the last six dating back to 2007.
Harvard put on quite a scoring display against Washington & Jefferson in the 11th-place game of the ECAC Championships Sept. 19, putting up 19 goals in a 19-3 rout of the Presidents.
The Crimson has scored 19 or more goals four times since 2002, with the most recent before the Washington & Jefferson game coming against Connecticut College, Nov. 7, 2009.
Harvard (3-8, 0-2 Collegiate Water Polo Association) began last Saturday with a clean slate of sorts, opening CWPA Northern Division play at home in Blodgett Pool, but fell behind early in a 13-5 loss to Fordham and suffered a heartbreaking, four-overtime, 11-10 defeat at the hands of Iona.
The team is led by its three seniors, Alex Thompson, Jeff Lee and co-captain Bret Voith. Lee leads the team in scoring (19 goals) with Thompson (17) right behind him and Voith following (15). Thompson leads the team in steals (18) with Voith (16) second on the team. Voith has accumulated the most assists for the Crimson (12) and Lee sits third on the squad with nine.
The Engineers (5-3, 2-0 CWPA) completed a weekend CWPA sweep by defeating Fordham, 13-10, Friday and topping Iona, 11-8, Saturday to start their league season. MIT is lead by its freshman utility player Craig Cheney, who tops the team in goals (20) and assists (10) and is second on the team in steals (15).
Harvard leads the all-time series against the Engineers in dominating fashion, 72-16, but MIT has won three of the last four meetings dating back to 2008, including a 7-6 win earlier this season. The Crimson holds the longest winning streak in the series at 45 games from 1982-97.
Players of the Week
Two Harvard players have earned Player of the Week nods this season, with seniors Alex Thompson and co-captain Bret Voith getting recognized.
Thompson was named the CWPA Northern Division Player of the Week for Sept. 7 after leading the Crimson in scoring for two of its three games at the MIT Invitational. Thompson scored seven goals, notched an assist and had eight steals over the two-day tournament, including four goals in a 12-8 victory over Cal Lutheran.
Voith was chosen as Harvard's COOP Athlete of the Week for Sept. 14 after he had a solid weekend in the pool at the Princeton Invitational, leading the Crimson to a thrilling, 9-8 win over George Washington and near upsets of nationally ranked Cal Baptist and Princeton. Voith totaled five goals, four assists and five steals in four games over the weekend, including three goals against No. 18 Princeton in the Tigers' home pool Sept. 11 in a televised game.
The Crimson heads out west for five games beginning Oct. 8. Harvard will play four games in the Claremont Convergence Tournament in Claremont, Calif., Oct. 8-9, taking on the likes of Air Force, Pomona-Pitzer, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Occidental. The Crimson heads to Santa Barbara, Calif., Oct. 10 to take on the 6th-ranked Gauchos.