Women’s team wins Harvard Mini and heads to Brown.
After a 20-win season last year, the Harvard Women’s Varsity water polo team returned this season with a few new faces and even more determination in the water. This past weekend, the team hosted Boston University, Brown, Villanova and Iona at the Harvard Mini Invitational. Harvard faced only Villanova and Iona in the roiling waters of Blodgett Pool. Against Villanova, the home team conquered with a 14-4 victory then followed up with a decisive 14-5 win against Iona. The freshmen of the team presented a strong showing, scoring eight of the 14 goals against Villanova and five goals against Iona. In both games, the Crimson defense dominated and worked together through great communication to keep the opponents out of their net.
The women’s team this year trained through a long preseason and worked on new techniques during a trip to Italy. The team is closer than ever and looking forward to beating last year’s record. Goalkeeper Cleo Harington ‘18, who stopped 13 shots in the Iona game, gives a few insights on the team dynamic and the Crimson’s plans for the season.
CC: How have you and the team prepared for this season’s lineup? What did the team learn from Italy?
CH: We have been back in Boston since the 31st of December (aside from our 11 days in Italy), training and getting ready to compete. So the sheer number of hours that we put in before we even started playing games has definitely gotten us physically ready. We have also talked a lot about overcoming mental blocks that are crucial to surmount when you’re playing, so I think we’re going to bring a mental edge to our game this year.
In Italy, we played some very physical teams, which is pretty typical of the European style of play. So we had to make our adjustments pretty quickly and start matching their physicality. In all, it was very beneficial to get that game experience in before we started playing games in the US.
CC: How does having such strong freshmen players affect the dynamic and future of the team?
CH: We’re super excited to have them. It’s been a lot of fun to see how quickly they’re adapting to our team and our system of play. They each have very unique talents that are going to make us a more well rounded team.
CC: The Harvard Mini showcased the team’s defensive strengths — is that a focus point for the season and how do you plan to work with that as goalie?
CH: Defense is always a major focus for us, and obviously for me, being a goalie. It doesn’t matter how many goals you score… if you can’t shut the other team down, you’re going to be in trouble. We have switched up some of the stuff that we usually do on defense, and that has been an adjustment for me for sure. I’m just really working on being more vocal with my team on defense, because ultimately I know what shots I want to block and what ones I don’t.
CC: Last year was one of Women’s wopo most memorable seasons — does last year’s record and the honors your coach and teammates received add to the pressures of this season?
CH: I personally feel like we all believe we fell short of what we should have achieved last year, so if anything, we’re expecting much more of ourselves this season. We’re setting a new standard for ourselves, and putting the bar high.
CC: Are you looking forward to the Brown invitational? As the first away games of the seasons, will the team play any differently or focus on different strengths?
CH: I am SO excited for the Brown invite! Being away does change some things as far as just not playing in your home pool, having opposing fans there, etc. But these games will be a lot harder than the games we played this past weekend. We are really going to have to minimize our silly mistakes, play fast and play confidently. I’m excited to see how much faster we come out, and am looking forward to watching us grow throughout the weekend.
With this victory firmly under their caps, the water polo players take to the road to Providence for this weekend’s Brown Invitational (February 6-7). The team is set to play four games total, matching up against Hawaii and Marist on Saturday, and followed by Indiana and St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday. While the competition will be more varied and the waters foreign, the team hopes to bring out the best of what they have learned and continue this season’s positive beginning.
Caroline Cronin ’18 (firstname.lastname@example.org) looks forward to the Crimson egg-beating the way to victory!