Women’s Water Polo Starts Season at Hoosier Invitational

Women’s Water Polo Starts Season at Hoosier Invitational

Tournament
Host
Date
Venue
Website

2018 Hoosier Invitational
Indiana University
Fri., Jan. 26 – Sun. Jan. 28
Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center
Iuhoosiers.com

Matchup
Date/Time
Series
Last 
Streak

 Harvard vs. No. 25 Iona
Jan. 27 / 1 p.m.
Harvard leads, 16-4
W, 13-6 (Feb. 4, 2017)
W3

Matchup
Date/Time
Series

            Harvard vs. McKendree
Jan. 27 / 5:30 p.m.
               First Meeting

Matchup
Date/Time
Series 

 Harvard vs. Toronto (Ex.)
Jan. 28 / 9:30 a.m.
First Meeting

Matchup

Date/Time
Series
Last 
Streak

    Harvard vs.
UC No. 14 Santa Barbara
Jan. 28 / 1:15 p.m.
               Harvard trails, 1-4
W, 9-8 (March 19, 2016)
W1

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's water polo team begins its 2018 campaign at the Hoosier Invitational Saturday, Jan. 27. The Crimson opens the tournament at 1 p.m. against No. 24 Iona, then plays an evening contest against McKendree. Harvard will also face Toronto in an exhibition match, before meeting No. 19 Santa Barbara on Sunday afternoon.

Crim-of-the-Crop
The Crimson program has continued to rise under the tutelage of the Friends of Harvard Water Polo Head Coach Ted Minnis. Harvard finished last season with its highest-ever final national ranking (No. 15) following an appearance in a CWPA Championship semifinal after defeating No. 16 Indiana. The Crimson concluded last year with a 15-14 record, after back-to-back 20-win seasons in years prior.

Follow the Leader
The Harvard captains are senior attacker Sami Strutner and senior goalie Cleo Harrington.

The Crimson
Harvard returns 10 players from the 2016-17 squad. Statistically, roughly 70 percent of the offense is back, as is approximately 75 percent of the defense. Both Crimson goalies return as well. 

Harrington and sophomore Sam Acker will resume guard of the net. Harrington is a two-time ACWPC All-America honorable mention recipient, two-time team MVP, twice a CWPA all-conference & all-tournament honoree, six-time CWPA Defensive Player of the Week, and the single-season school record holder in saves (308). Harrington has 20 double-digit save performances over the last two seasons.

The Crimson retained two of the top three goal scorers in junior Kristen Hong and sophomore Sofia Carrera-Justiz. Hong tied the program's single-season record for goals (80) and also led the team in steals (45) as a freshman. The Orinda, California, native returned to find the net 50 times and record 28 steals as sophomore. Carrera-Justiz led the Crimson in assists (30) and registered the third most goals (41) and steals (31). Sophomore Mathilde Ribordy was also a major contributor in these categories with 34 goals and 34 steals.

Class of 2020
Four new faces appear in the Harvard lineup this season: Jilly Cronin, Quinne Pursell, Olivia Price and Remedy Ryan. Pursell and Price are attackers, while Ryan is a 2-meter player and Cronin is listed as utility personnel. 

And Now My Watch Has Ended…
The Crimson graduated Michelle Martinelli, Zoe Osbore and Eela Nagaraj in 2017. Martinelli received a CWPA All-America honorable mention after racking up 46 goals, 23 assists and 23 steals in her final campaign. Osborne led Harvard with 36 steals, while also recording 23 goals and 27 assists. Nagaraj tallied 10 goals, 14 assists, and 16 steals in her last season. The graduated players accounted for roughly one-third of the Crimson offense (30.3%) and more than a quarter of steals (26.9%). 

Scouting Iona
Iona is also kicking-off its season at the Hoosier Invitational. The Gaels will be led by three All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honorees. Hannah Schultz, the 2017 MAAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year, registered a team-leading 92 goals last season. Kayla Allen recorded 44 goals for Iona. Britten Vilander played every game in net and had a save percentage of .456. The Gaels were picked to finish third in the MAAC.

Scouting McKendree
The Bearcats open their season on Wednesday, Jan. 24, against St. Louis. McKendree made its NCAA debut as a varsity program in 2017, reaching the title game of the CWPA Midwest Division Tournament. All-conference selections Brianna Mullalley (67 goals) and Catie Young (18) will lead McKendree into the 2018 campaign.

Scouting Toronto
The Varsity Blues have not competed since winning the National Collegiate Water Polo (NCWP) Championship on Nov. 26, 2017. Toronto is the five-time defending champion of the NCWP. Center defender Ana Miroslavic was named MVP of the tournament, while net-minder Rachael Jaffe was named Most Valuable Goaltender. Center forwards Kassie Fraser and Alexandra Kraft also picked up all-star awards.

Scouting UC Santa Barbara
The Gauchos (3-2) enter the Hoosier Invitational having hosted the UCSB Winter Invitational last weekend. UCSB bookended losses to Michigan and UCLA with wins against Cal-Baptist and Fresno State. Sarah Kreiser leads the Gauchos with 11 goals. Kate Pipkin is the primary point earner (10g, 11a), while Natalie Selin (8g, 6a) and Kreiser are second with 14 points. Kenzi Snyder has started all five games in net for UCSB and brings a .508 save percentage and 7.06 GAA into the weekend.

Championship Aspirations
Harvard is climbing the championship ladder. The Crimson finished fourth in the conference in 2016-17, improving upon sixth-place finishes in each of the two seasons prior. Harvard eliminated No. 16 Indiana in the quarterfinal round last season. 

What's Next
Harvard will compete in the Bruno Classic hosted by Brown University. The Crimson have a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 3. Marist and San Diego State will be the opponents.