Men’s Water Polo Dominates
Exceeding Expectations with a Perfect 18-0 Start to the Season
By ELIZABETH GUMMER
The Harvard Men’s water polo team has exceeded expectations thus far, taking the win in all 18 of their games this season. Known to excel, last season the Crimson had an eight game winning streak mid-season, and have only improved since. Starting off the year ranked 11th in the nation, the team has risen in the rankings and now sits at 9th. Looking towards conference championships, the team has put themselves in a fantastic position to succeed.
Kicking off the season with the Bruno Classic, Men’s WoPo took on Cal Lutheran and McKendree at home to start their winning streak. Continuing his scoring trend from the past season, junior Dennis Blayshov started the game off quickly with a goal in the first minute. Scoring another five points for the team along the course of the game, Blayshov led the team to a 16-7 win over Cal Lutheran. In their match against McKendree later that day, top scorer of the game sophomore Alex Tsotadze secured four goals to bring the team to a 20-8 win.
On the road for the first off campus games of the season, the Crimson travelled to Princeton, New Jersey, for a triple play weekend in the Princeton Invite. First off was UC San Diego, ranked 9th in the NCAA. The two teams haven’t met since the fall of 2016, where Harvard had beat the team 12-10. Again the Crimson had a tight game, but managed to pull together a 12-11 win over the visiting West Coast team. Playing both Navy and Fordham the next day, the team secured their next two wins. Again Blayshov and Tsotadze came through for their teammates, scoring four points a piece in the morning match against Navy to close out with a score of 17-10. With another clean sweep in the afternoon of 11-8, Harvard took down Fordham with notable efforts from junior Jackson Enright who scored three goals over the four quarters.
Packing four games into the next weekend away, Harvard faced off against Johns Hopkins, George Washington, Mercyhurst, and Salem at the Bucknell invite. Captain Charlie Owens started out the first quarter with two goals to bring the team to a 6-0 lead over Johns Hopkins in their first game of the weekend. Ultimately, the team finished out the match with a 16-5 win. In the George Washington matchup later that day, both senior Bennie Seybold and first-year Gabe Putnam pulled through with hat-tricks to hold a consistent lead over the D.C. team and bring the Crimson to a 13-8 win.
In day two of the Bucknell invite, the Crimson saw similar success. Cruising to a win against Mercyhurst with an 18-5 win, the team was led by top scorer Blayshov but saw incredible contribution from many members across the team. Securing the game even within the first half, the Crimson led 14-1 when the halftime buzzer went. Moving to their last game of the weekend, the Harvard men showed that they meant business. Again showing incredible team effort, scoring was distributed amongst 12 of the Crimson team members to contribute to a 23-4 win over Salem.
Back on the road again, Harvard slammed three more wins against Princeton, St. Francis, and Iona. Both Blayshov and Owens delivered hat-tricks in their first game against Princeton, aiding the team in a 12-9 victory on Saturday. Heading due North for their Sunday matches, Harvard secured wins 11 and 12 of the season. The morning match against St. Francis was tight in score, with Havard taking the win by two in a 17-15 game. Blayshov and Tsotadze were back at it again with five goals a piece with back-to-back goals from Blayshov twice in both the first and third period. Further domination was prevalent in the game against Iona: huge efforts from sophomore goalie Noah Hodge brought the team to a 19-9 win to close out the weekend.
The following weekend was spent at Brown and MIT, adding to Havard’s impressive winning streak. The Crimson held off Brown with a 12-5 win, with Harvard only allowing one goal past their defence in the second half of the game. Showing both incredible offensive and defensive line-ups, Harvard took an 18-7 lead over MIT back in Cambridge on Sunday.
Last weekend was Harvard’s turn to host, conquering four teams over the course of two days. Saturday brought triumphs over George Washington and Pomona-Pitzer. The game against GW was tighter than their last. The win was aided by Blayshov and Owens, scoring four points each, as well as a last second goal from junior Bruno Snow to secure the win of 14-13. Blayshov proved himself to be an absolute asset for their second game of the day against Pomona-Pitzer, scoring the winning goal in sudden-death overtime after two full overtime periods for a 17-16 win.
In the teams last games against Bucknell and LaSalle, Harvard lost no stream and closed the weekend with an 18-0 streak. Goalie Hodge exhibited incredible agility, tallying 22 saves over the four quarters in the opening game against Bucknell. Though the Crimson scored no goals to Bucknell’s three in the first quarter, the game closed out with a Crimson win, with a final score of 9-8 after goals were scored by seven different Crimson players. In the second game of the day, the Crimson only allowed four goals from LaSalle to enter the net. The game closed out with a 19-4 win from Harvard WoPo to seal this successful weekend.
Crossing the country to Santa Clara for their next quadruple-game weekend, Harvard will take on California Baptist, Santa Clara, San Jose St., and Chapman. Following their away games, the Crimson will be home for the next two weekends. This will be the last chance to catch the men in a home game at Blodgett, where Harvard looks to continue their series of success.
Elizabeth Gummer ‘21 ([email protected]) writes sports for the Indy.