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Five Ranked Teams on Deck for Men’s Water Polo in California

Alexandre Popp leads the Crimson with 105 saves in 2011 (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard men's water polo team is set to travel to California for a five-game swing against traditional water polo powers. The Crimson will compete in The Rodeo hosted by Santa Clara which features nine teams playing a total of 18 games over the course of three days.

Click here for The Rodeo Tournament Central

Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Fri., Oct. 21
9:20 p.m. – No. 18 Cal Baptist vs. Harvard

Sat., Oct. 22
4:00 p.m. – No. 12 UC Davis vs. Harvard
8:00 p.m. – No. 3 Stanford vs. Harvard

Sun., Oct. 23
11:00 a.m. – No. 6 Pepperdine vs. Harvard
5:40 p.m. – No. 15 Santa Clara vs. Harvard

Golden State
This weekend's trip will be a homecoming for many of the Crimson. Head Coach Ted Minnis, Assistant Coach Jessi Wood and 12 Harvard student-athletes are natives of California. 

Triple Digits
Senior goalie Alexandre Popp made 19 saves during three games last weekend to bring his season total to 105. It is the second consecutive season that Popp, who finished with 230 saves a year ago, has passed the century mark. The senior narrowly missed 100 saves as a sophomore as he made 98 stops in 11 starts.

Career Year
Max Eliot has scored at least one goal in each of Harvard's six wins. The junior is averaging 2.5 goals during Crimson victories and has netted a career-high 27 scores overall. Eliot scored 25 times as a freshman and added 18 goals as a sophomore.

Offensive Spark
Evan Ramsey, who leads the team with 31 steals and has recorded at least one steal in all 14 games he has appeared in, has provided a defensive presence for the Crimson all season. Last weekend, Ramsey showed that he can make an impact on the offensive end as well. The freshman registered five goals and three assists against Connecticut College and followed up the impressive performance with the game winning goal with 25 seconds left in a 10-9win over Mercyhurst.

For his efforts, Ramsey was named the CWPA Northern Division Rookie of the Week and Harvard COOP Athlete of the Week.

Harvard
The Crimson is riding its first two-game winning streak of the season after downing Connecticut College and Mercyhurst to finish 2-1 at Blodgett Pool last weekend.

Harvard battled St. Francis (N.Y.) but fell, 13-5, to open the weekend before Evan Ramsey scored five goals to lead the Crimson past Connecticut College, 16-7, on Saturday. A strong defensive performance and a second half rally gave the Harvard men's water polo team a dramatic 10-9 victory over Mercyhurst Sunday. Luka Babic netted a hat trick for the Crimson and Alexandre Popp added seven saves and four steals as Harvard improved to 6-10 overall.

No. 18 Cal Baptist
The Lancers have a 17-5 record this season and are on a three-game winning streak. Cal Baptist downed Gannon (19-3), Iona (11-10) and Vanguard (14-13) last weekend at the Concordia Tournament in Huntington Beach, Calif.  Junior Scott Gleason leads the Lancers with 39 goals and senior Chris Toy has added 32 goals and a team-high 19 assists.

Harvard will face Cal Baptist for the second time this season after squaring off against the Lancers at the MIT Invitational Sept. 3. The Crimson was haunted by late mistakes in the early season matchup and eventually fell 13-9. Alexandre Popp made 13 saves in the loss and Max Murphy and Max Eliot scored two goals apiece.

Cal Baptist leads the all-time series against Harvard 4-1. The Lancers have won the last four meetings dating back to 2007.

No. 12 UC Davis
UC Davis went 6-0 at its own Aggie Shootout last weekend and enters The Rodeo having won nine consecutive games. Aaron Salit leads UC Davis with 57 goals in 22 games played.

The Aggies and Crimson have not met since 2007 and UC Davis leads the all-time series 2-1. In the last meeting, UC Davis topped Harvard 10-5.

No. 3 Stanford
The Cardinal was ranked No. 1 in the Oct. 12 CWPA poll but fell to No. 3 UCLA 7-6. Now ranked No. 3, Stanford enters with a 9-3 record. The Cardinal has outscored opponents 100-66 this season and are led by freshman Alex Bowen with 22 goals.

Harvard, which is 0-3 all-time against Stanford, has not faced the Cardinal since 1989.

No. 6 Pepperdine
Pepperdine has a 10-7 record in 2011 after winning a pair of 11-10 decisions over UC Irvine and Pacific last week. Through the first 14 games, seniors Nate Castillo and Andrew Milcovich paced the Waves with 25 goals apiece.

Pepperdine has won all three meetings against the Crimson, including an 11-2 decision in 2008 when the teams last met.

No. 15 Santa Clara
The host Broncos are 11-11 overall in 2011. Santa Clara is led by sophomore Theo Nasser with 28 goals and senior goalie Michael Wishart who has blocked 196 shots while adding 13 steals and 14 assists.

Harvard took the first meeting between the two schools, 10-5 in 2002, but the Broncos have won four consecutive matchups since. Santa Clara downed the Crimson, 17-2, last season.

Up Next
The Crimson return home to host the Ivy League Championships Oct. 29-30.