Laurel McCarthy (center) has made 122 saves in goal for the Crimson this season (photo courtesy Kevin Burns)
The Harvard women's water polo team jumps back into conference play this weekend on the road in Pennsylvania. Saturday features a doubleheader against Collegiate Water Polo Association opponent and host Bucknell and Southern Division rival Princeton. Sunday the Crimson will take on CWPA Western Division member Michigan.
Last Time Out
Harvard made sure to send its two seniors out in style Saturday at Blodgett Pool by opening with a blowout, 19-2 win over Connecticut College, and following with a thrilling, 13-12, double overtime victory against Marist. The Crimson scored 18 unanswered goals from 11 different players in the first through third periods against Connecticut College before the Camels finally posted two goals of their own in the fourth frame en route to the 19-2 defeat.
After trailing Marist 3-1 after the first period and 7-4 at halftime in the nightcap, Harvard limited the Red Foxes to three second half goals while posting seven of its own to send the game into overtime at 10-10. The two teams traded a goal each in the first extra period to force another overtime with the score tied, 11-11. Harvard took a 12-11 lead in the second overtime only to see Marist even it up again with a goal of its own. Then, with the game clock ticking down, Elise Molnar tossed the ball to Aisha Price who was just left of center. Price fired the ball past a Marist defender who tipped it but did not get enough to stop it from going in for the go-ahead score with three seconds left on the game clock.
The Crimson heads into the weekend on a three-game winning streak, outscoring its opponents, 44-22, along the way. At 1-0 in CWPA play, Harvard is tied for first with Princeton atop the Southern Division standings. A total of six Harvard players have posted double-digit figures in goals, assists and steals so far, led by junior co-captain Devan Kennifer with 53 goals, 14 assists and 63 steals. Shannon Purcell (22 g., 36 a., 26 s.) and Monica Zdrojewski (45 g., 20 a., 33 s.) are the only Crimson players to have posted at least 20 goals, assists and steals.
The No. 18 Tigers (14-9, 1-0 CWPA) have won five of their last seven games, and their last three losses have all come against top-10 teams, falling by two goals in each contest. Princeton hosts Villanova Thursday before heading to Lewisburg, Pa., for this weekend's CWPA games.
Harvard is 11-24 all-time against the Tigers. Princeton has won eight straight in the series dating back to 2005 and 20 of the last 21. The Crimson last defeated the Tigers, 6-2, in 2004. Princeton won a matchup between the two teams earlier this season in the ECAC Championship third-place game, 12-3, also at Bucknell.
The Bison (10-10, 0-1 CWPA) have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games, and after a 15-6 loss to No. 7 Michigan Saturday, stand tied for fourth in the CWPA Western Division. The team is led in scoring by Hallie Kennan with 36 goals. Kennan also heads Bucknell's defensive efforts with 30 steals.
Bucknell leads the all-time series against Harvard, 16-11-1. The two teams have split their last six games, picking up three wins each. Only one game in the series has ever been decided by more than three goals, which was a four-goal, 12-8 Bucknell victory in 1987.
The Wolverines (23-4, 4-0 CWPA) come into the weekend riding a 13-game winning streak, which includes three wins over top-20 squads. Michigan tops the CWPA Western Division at 4-0 and will wrap-up division play with a game against Hartwick Saturday. Alison Mantel is the Wolverines' leading scorer with 39 goals and 23 assists. Goalie Alex Adamson has made 122 saves in 19 games.
Michigan has won four in a row against Harvard to lead the series, 5-2-1. Harvard's last win came in 2000 by a score of 9-8. The teams first met in 1989.
Classmates Shannon Purcell and Monica Zdrojewski have posted the best all-around numbers for Harvard as the only players with at least 20 goals, assists and steals this season. Purcell has recorded 22 scores, leads the team with 36 assists and has grabbed 26 takeaways. Zdrowjewski is second on the team with 45 tallies, notched her 20th assist against Marist Saturday, and has 33 steals on the year.
Unbeaten at Blodgett
With Saturday's home doubleheader sweep, Harvard finished the 2011 season a perfect 7-0 at Blodgett Pool. The Crimson outscored visiting opponents, 119-41, reached double-digits in scoring each home game and only allowed 10 or more goals once, as Marist notched 12 scores in a double-overtime loss to Harvard.
This spring's freshman class has made quite a splash for Harvard this year, making significant contributions on both ends of the pool in the players' first collegiate season. Jelena Cyr, Christy DiSilvestro, Riley Kessler, Shayna Price and Jamie Williams have totaled 74 goals, 41 assists and 74 steals as a quintet, amounting to 28 percent of the Crimson's scoring this season, 26 percent of the team's takeaways and 25 percent of Harvard's assists.
Double It Up
Harvard's offense has been lighting up the scoreboard all season long, totaling 268 goals as a team and reaching double digits in scoring 14 times. The Crimson is 8-1 in games decided by 10 goals or more.
The Crimson upped the defensive effort against Connecticut College Sunday in holding its opponent under 10 goals for the 13th time this spring. Harvard is 12-1 when holding opponents to nine goals or less this season.
Devan Kennifer has been putting in effort on offense and defense this season, leading the team in both goals and steals with 53 scores and 63 takeaways. Her 53 tallies outdistance the nearest teammate by nine and give her a goals per game average of 2.4, while her 63 steals are 26 better than teammate Aisha Price's 37 so far this season.
On three different occasions this season, the Crimson has received votes in the CWPA Top-20 poll, most recently in the March 16 poll as the team was in the midst of its seven-game West Coast swing.
Harvard continues CWPA action April 16-17 at Maryland with three games against George Washington, Indiana and the host Terrapins.