By Peyton Fine
Harvard runs win streak to eight
When Harvard swept its annual West Coast road trip, it should have been a sign that this year’s team may have been better than anything Harvard water polo had ever seen. Each year, Harvard spends a week in California, considered the mecca of water polo, competing against the best collegiate water polo has to offer. This year, Harvard went undefeated on its trip for the first time in recent memory and in the process beat three top-20 opponents. After this weekend, the special feeling is getting stronger as the Crimson pushed its win streak and rose to 12th in the country, its highest ranking in program history.
The Crimson started the season 2-6 and in a hole that looked insurmountable. Things just were not clicking. They at times were giving up 20 goals and then following that up by being incapable of scoring 10 themselves. Outside and inside scoring were not coexisting much less complementing each other. Defensively, the Crimson looked porous enough to drain the entirety of the pool they played in. But then, things started to change. Harvard followed up that poor start with a 15-2 run that is culminating with this current 8-game win streak, and the resurgence has been led by none other than seniors from California.
Ben Zepfel’16, Noah Harrison’16, and Blake Lee’16 have paced the offense like none other. Zepfel, a former All-American, has held down the area directly in front of the net, and Harrison and Lee have perfectly complemented Zepfel’s interior presence with an array of outside shots. What in the beginning of the season looked dysfunctional now looks like a Rembrandt. Zepfel, Lee, and Harrison are the three-leading scorers on the team and in the last two division games against Fordham and Iona at least two of the three have netted a hat trick.
This weekend, Harvard defeated three CWPA conference opponents, which guaranteed them the second seed for the CWPA tournament the weekend before Thanksgiving. If the Californians keep playing the way they have and Harvard keeps the magic of beating ranked opponents they found in California two weeks ago, Harvard could have its best season ever in store.
Peyton Fine ’17 ([email protected]) is astonished an excited by the turnaround of this year’s Harvard water polo. If the resurgence continues, unprecedented accomplishments could be in the future.