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Harvard Takes Part in Ivy Water Polo Championship

Junior goalie Alexandre Popp made 13 saves against MIT in the Crimson's last game (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).

PRINCETON, N.J. – The Crimson men's water polo team heads to New Jersey this weekend for the Ivy Championship, which will mark the first time all of the Ivy League institutions will meet in the sport of water polo. Comprised of the varsity teams from Brown, Harvard and Princeton, in addition to the club programs from Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn and Yale, the championship will occur Saturday and Sunday at Princeton's DeNunzio Pool.

The Seeding
Seeding for the championship was based on the order of finish among the varsity teams at the 2009 Collegiate Water Polo Association Eastern Championship, while the five club teams were seeded based on head-to-head results among the programs. Princeton earned the No. 1 seed for this year's Ivy Championship after winning the Eastern title last season. No. 2 Brown finished fifth at Easterns in 2009 and third-seeded Harvard finished fifth at the Northern Division Championship, just missing a bid to Easterns. The 2010 Ivy Championship will be the first time varsity and collegiate club teams clash in a common tournament for a title.

Schedule
Saturday

10 a.m.                  Game 1                  Club No. 1 Penn vs. Club No. 4 Dartmouth
11:30 a.m.             Game 2                  Club No. 2 Columbia vs. Club No. 3 Yale
1 p.m.                    Game 3                  Varsity No. 3 Harvard vs. Club No. 5 Cornell
3:30 p.m.               Game 4                  Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
5 p.m.                    Game 5                  Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2
7 p.m.                    Game 6                  Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4

Sunday
9:30 a.m.               Game 7                  Varsity No. 2 Brown vs. Winner of Game 3
11 a.m.                  Game 8                  Varsity No. 1 Princeton vs. Winner of Game 4
12:30 p.m.             7th Place               Loser of Game 5 vs. Loser of Game 6
2 p.m.                    5th Place               Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6
3:30 p.m.               3rd Place               Loser of Game 7 vs. Loser of Game 8
5 p.m.                    Champion              Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8

About Harvard
The Crimson (8-14, 2-5 CWPA) have only played one game in the last two weeks, and that was right across town against Cambridge rival MIT, so the team has had plenty of time to rest and prepare for the Ivy Championship. The Crimson fell, 10-6, in their third matchup of the season against the Engineers Oct. 22 after winning their final two CWPA games of the year on the road against Queens (N.Y.) and Connecticut College.

The Rest of the Field
Brown

The Bears (13-8, 6-1 CWPA) are on a four-game losing streak after struggling last weekend on their trip to California for the Santa Clara Invitational. Before its recent struggles however, Brown had won nine of 11 games, including reaching the ECAC championship game and winning six of seven CWPA Northern division games.

The Bears are currently on a six-game winning streak in the series and have won 10 of the last 12 matchups while holding a dominating 73-20 all-time lead. The Bears held off a Harvard comeback attempt Oct. 14 in the Crimson's final home game of 2010 to win 12-9. The Crimson last defeated Brown in 2006, 8-7 in triple overtime, at Blodgett Pool.

Columbia
The Lions (11-0) have been a scoring juggernaut all season long, posting 20 or more goals in five wins and outscoring opponents, 192-71, en route to a New York Region championship last weekend. Columbia swept through the first two rounds of the championship with blowout wins over Colgate, 20-4, and NYU, 26-8, before edging New York state rival and Ivy member Cornell, 11-10, for the title.

The Crimson last met the Lions for a varsity game 20 years ago in 1990. Harvard has never lost to Columbia, leading the all-time series, which lasted from 1981-90, 8-0.

Cornell
Cornell (9-2) faced the same trouble as Dartmouth, playing in the same region as another powerhouse from the Ivy League, this time sharing the New York region with Columbia. The Big Red did its fair share of scoring this season as well, posting four games of 20-plus goals and outscoring opponents, 183-71.

Cornell and Harvard have only met once in a varsity showdown, with the Crimson taking a big 22-5 win back on Oct. 24, 1992.

Dartmouth
The Big Green (9-3) had the unfortunate fate of playing in the same region as Yale this year, and in three meetings against the Bulldogs, Dartmouth suffered three defeats, including falling 8-3 in the New England region championship last weekend.

The Crimson and Big Green last clashed in varsity men's water polo back in 2002. Harvard has yet to experience defeat at the hands of Dartmouth, holding a perfect 10-0 mark against its northern neighbors from 1986-2002.

Penn
The Quakers (11-0) are coming off a Mid-Atlantic region championship last weekend after powering through their Eastern division schedule at 8-0 during the year. A 13-6 first-round win over Drexel and a second round 10-3 defeat of cross-town rival Villanova set Penn up for a showdown with in-state foe Penn State for the region championship, which the Quakers would go on to win, 9-5.

Harvard and Penn have met just once in a match-up of two varsity programs, with Harvard winning, 6-3, back on Oct. 28, 1989.

No. 18 Princeton
The Tigers (13-7, 6-2 CWPA) enter the weekend having won their last two games in convincing fashion, topping Iona 12-5 and George Washington 12-3 last Saturday. The Princeton defense held both opponents scoreless in the first halves of the games. The result has Princeton atop the CWPA Southern Division standings with 12 points and a 6-2 record. The Tigers are two points ahead of Navy.

Princeton controls the all-time series with Harvard, 21-13, including a 14-9 victory in DeNuzio Pool on Sept. 11 at the Princeton Invitational. The Tigers have won 10 in a row against the Crimson dating back to 2002.

Yale
Like Columbia and Penn, the Bulldogs (12-0) are also coming off a region championship last weekend, this one carrying the New England title. Yale has scored in bunches this season, posting 15 or more goals in seven games, including 20 or more on two separate occasions.

The Harvard-Yale matchup in the pool may not carry the same weight as the annual football game or the crew regatta, but the two teams have been playing each other since Harvard began its program in 1980, and the rivalry has certainly been one-sided. Harvard has never lost to Yale in men's water polo, holding a 45-0 all-time series lead after last meeting in a varsity showdown in 2007.

Up Next
The Crimson heads across town to MIT for the CWPA Northern Division Championship Nov. 5-7. Harvard will look to improve upon a fifth-place finish at the Northern Division Championships last season, which was one slot better than 2008.