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No. 17 Men's Water Polo to Host CWPA Northern Championships

Harvard enters the weekend as the top seed (photo courtsey: Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 17 Harvard men's water polo team will host the Collegiate Water Polo Northern Championships Nov. 9-10 at Blodgett Pool. The top-seeded Crimson begins the tournament against the winner of fourth-seeded MIT and fifth-seeded Iona at 4:30 p.m. on day one.

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The Ivy League Digital Network, which was launched in the summer, will stream all three games on Sunday. Subscribers to the network can watch matches both live and on-demand at their convenience, and will have access to live and on-demand content for all home Harvard athletics events throughout the duration of their subscription.

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Scene Setter
The Crimson will welcome No. 15 Brown, Connecticut College, Fordham, Iona, MIT and No. 18 St. Francis to compete this weekend and decide which three programs advance to the CWPA Championship on Nov. 22-24 at Brown.

Harvard enters the tournament as the number one seed by virtue of its 11-1 mark in CWPA conference play this season. St. Francis is the second seed with a 10-2 record in conference play followed by Brown and MIT. Iona claimed the fifth-seed over Fordham based on the goal differential tiebreaker. Connecticut College rounds out the teams as the seventh-seed.

Schedule
The tournament features 10 games.  Seven of those will be played on Saturday with the remaining three being played on Sunday.  Sunday's two final games will determine the top three teams. For more information and the complete schedule of the weekend's games, please click here.

Last Year at Northerns
Harvard traveled to Brown as the third seed in the tournament.  In the opener, the Crimson squared off with sixth-seeded Fordham and prevailed, 10-8, to guarantee itself a top-four finish at the event and earn its second straight berth into the CWPA Championships. Harvard advanced to the semifinals and fell to second-seeded St. Francis, 17-14.

Last Time Out
Harvard claimed its first ever CWPA regular season title after defeating then No. 16 St. Francis, Iona and Fordham last weekend.

The Crimson, led by Noah Harrison (three goals and five steals) and Dan Stevens (two goals, one assist and one steal), knocked off St. Francis, 8-7.  Harvard has not defeated the Terriers twice in a single season since 2002. Ben Zepfel set a new career high as he buried seven goals to help down Iona, 18-15. Iona is the lone CWPA northern team to have earned a win against the Crimson in conference play this season. Zepfel found the back of the net three times in the final game of the weekend while Stevens contributed two more goals to lift Harvard past Fordham, 9-5.

Related Link: No. 18 Men's Water Polo Takes Down No. 16 St. Francis, Iona
Related Link: No. 18 Men's Water Polo Defeats Fordham, 9-5, on Senior Day

Home Sweet Home
Harvard posted a perfect 6-0 record at home during the regular season for the first time since 1987. At Blodgett Pool this season, the Crimson limited four of its six opponents to less than 10 goals while outscoring its competition, 70-45.The Crimson offense buried a season-high 18 goals while Zepfel registered a new season and career best when he scored seven goals against Iona at its home venue. Harvard dished out 42 assists and registered 69 steals across its six home games with Colin Woolway (34 saves) and Jimmy Field (11 saves) both seeing time in goal.

Depth in Net
The Crimson has four goalies on its roster this season.  Woolway leads the foursome with 177 saves, while contributing 12 assists and 11 steals.  Co-captain Fields has recorded 49 saves along with one goal, one assit and three steals.  Connor Denney (two saves) and Alex Eckstein (six saves) have also seen time in between the pipes for Harvard.

Young is Served
Harvard's underclassmen have been a vital part of the team's success in 2013. The group has accounted for 85.9 percent of goals (254/292), 88.1 percent of assists (162/184), 83.7 percent of steals (252/301) and 78.7 percent of saves (185/235). Harrison leads the attack with 61 goals, while Zepfel has contributed 46 and Colton has added 39. Colton is ranked first in assists with 49 followed by Blake Lee (38) and Harrison (24). Harrison (59), Dan Stevens (40) and Colton are the team leaders for steals.

Raising the Bar
The Crimson has outscored its opponents 292-271 over the course of the season. Fourteen student-athletes have contributed to the Crimson offense with eight players reaching double-figure scoring. The squad has scored more than 10 goals in 13 games and limited 10 of its 26 opponents to single-digit scoring. Eight Crimson have combined to score 35 hat tricks. Harrison has registered 10 while Zepfel has six and Colton has five. 

National Ranking
Harvard currently sits at No. 17 in the CWPA national rankings. The Crimson, which hasn't been ranked since the 2002 season, first breached the poll during the week of Oct. 2, landing in a tie for 19th, and has remained in the rankings for five consecutive weeks. The best rank in program history was 15th during the week of Oct. 9, 2002.

Racking Up the Awards
The Crimson has won 13 CWPA weekly awards this season and had 17 players on the weekly honor roll. Woolway was tabbed as Defensive Player of the Week while Stevens earned his first Rookie of the Week honor for the week of Nov. 4. Woolway leads the Crimson with five individual honors, winning Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Sept. 30, Oct. 14 and Nov. 4. Harrison has been tabbed Player of the Week three times (Sept. 23, Sept. 30, and Oct. 14). Stevens joins Colton and Wrobel who have each picked up Rookie of the Week accolades. Colton won the award Sept. 9, Oct. 14 and Oct. 28. Wrobel brought the honor to Cambridge Sept. 30.

Related Link: Woolway Earns Fifth CWPA Weekly Award; Stevens Named Rookie of the Week

Up Next
The CWPA Eastern Championships will be held in Providence, R.I., at Brown Nov. 16-17.