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Women's Water Polo Splits Sunday with Marist, No. 18 Santa Clara

The Crimson nearly toppled yet another ranked opponent this season, before being edged out by the 18th-ranked Broncos on Senior Day. (Gil Talbot)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – On day two of the Harvard Invite, the Harvard women's water polo team split a pair of games, taking down Marist, 9-8, in the early game, before dropping a hard-fought decision to No. 18 Santa Clara, 9-7, Sunday afternoon in Blodgett Pool.

The Crimson (8-6) and the Red Foxes traded goals to open things up in the early going, but Harvard reeled off three goals in a row, two from Yoshi Andersen to give the dark caps a 3-1 lead. Marist got one more back in the frame, but Alexis Del Toro capped off a quick first period with a goal with 1:46 left to give the Crimson a 4-2 lead after one.

After Harvard took a 6-3 lead midway through the second, Marist came rolling back, eventually cutting its deficit to 6-5 as the horn expired before halftime. Del Toro found the back of the net with 4:37 left in the third frame to make it 7-5 Harvard, but the Red Foxes grabbed two scores in a row to knot things up at 7-7 with no time remaining on the clock in the third.

Shayna Price notched an early goal for the Crimson, but Kathryn Knutson tied things up once again at 4:25, keeping things close for each side. Melissa Balding eventually got the ball over the goal line with 2:05 remaining, with what would be the last goal of the contest, giving Harvard a narrow 9-8 win.

Against Santa Clara, before which the two Harvard seniors Jelena Cyr and Shayna Price were honored on Senior Day, the Crimson fought steadily with one of the nation's top-20 teams in the Broncos. Harvard and No. 18 Santa Clara battled through a tough first period, and thanks to scores from Andersen and Victoria Frager, the Crimson and Broncos were tied at 2-2 after the opening frame.

Balding gave the Crimson its first lead of the day in the second stanza, getting one across the goal line at 6:08, but the Broncos came right back with a tally in the very next possession to make it 3-3. One more goal apiece would send the two into halftime knotted at 4-4.

SCU grabbed a two-goal lead early in the third, but a score from Charlotte Hendrix, followed by another Andersen score evened things up at 6-6, before the Broncos added one more goal as time expired in the period.

Andersen continued her hot streak with a ledger-evening tally with 5:27 to play, but behind back-to-back goals for Santa Clara, the Broncos kept the Crimson off the board to edge out a 9-7 victory in the grueling contest.

With the Harvard Invite concluded, the Crimson will return to the pool on March 15-16 in the Aztec Invite on the campus of San Diego State University. Harvard will square off with Cal Lutheran and SDSU on Saturday, before taking on UC San Diego and San Jose State on Sunday.