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Heading Back To Easterns: Men's Water Polo Splits on Opening Day of Northern Championships

Ben Zepfel netted a hat trick to help Harvard knock off Fordham (Photo courtesy: Justine Agaloos).

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Harvard men's water polo team will be making a return trip to the Collegiate Water Polo Association Eastern Championships.

The third-seeded Crimson topped Fordham, 10-8, to guarantee itself a top-four finish at the CWPA Northern Championships at Brown University and earn its second straight berth in the Eastern Championships Nov. 16-18 at Princeton before falling to St. Francis, 17-14, in the semifinals.

In the opener, sophomore John Holland-McCowan paced the offensive attack with four goals, while Ben Zepfel contributed a hat trick. Will Roller, Blake Lee and Noah Harrison all added single tallies to round out the scoring.

Both teams got off to a slow start, playing to a scoreless tie after the first period. Zepfel got the Crimson on the board in the second quarter; however, the Rams responded with the next two goals to take a 2-1 advantage. It looked like Fordham would take that lead into the break, but Holland-McCowan netted his first goal to tie the game with 23 seconds remaining before intermission.

In the third quarter, Harvard stormed out of the gates, scoring the first three goals of the period before the clock hit five minutes. Zepfel, Holland-McCowan and Lee all found the back of the net to give the Crimson some breathing room. The two squads would trade goals for the rest of the period as Harrison and Holland-McCowan both scored for Harvard.

The final eight minutes saw the Crimson pull away before Fordham attempted to make a comeback as Harvard scored three of the first five goals in the period to extend its advantage to four. Zepfel, Roller and Holland-McCowan all scored in the frame before the Rams netted the final two goals to make the margin of victory two.

On defense, Jimmy Field made eight saves in net, while Robbie Fluegge and Zepfel paced the team with three steals apiece. Max Murphy and Harrison both contributed two steals.

In the second contest, Zepfel and Lee both delivered four goals to pace the Crimson. Harrison and Holland-McCowan added two goals apiece, and Fluegge and Murphy had single tallies.

The Terriers took an early advantage, outscoring the Crimson, 3-2, in the opening frame. Zepfel and Fluegge both found the back of the net for Harvard in the period.

The second saw St. Francis stretch its lead to three heading into the half as Harvard only tallied two more goals with one from Zepfel and Lee.

The Crimson proceeded to dominate the third quarter for the second consecutive game, outscoring the Terriers 5-2 and cutting the deficit to one. The freshmen did the damage as Lee and Harrison netted two goals apiece, and Zepfel added his third of the game.

After drawing to within one, Harvard watched as St. Francis pulled away in the fourth quarter, tallying seven goals to Harvard's five. Holland-McCowan had both of his goals in the final eight minutes, and Zepfel, Lee and Murphy all had one.

Zepfel and Harrison both recorded three steals, and Colin Woolway made 13 saves in goal.

Harvard returns to action in the third-place game against MIT at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Stats
Fordham 10-8 win

Goals
Roller
Zepfel 3
Holland-McCowan 4
Lee
Harrison

Assists
Roller
Lee 4
Murphy 2
Harrison

Steals
Roller
Fluegge 3
Zepfel 3
Holland-McCowan
Lee
Murphy 2
Harrison 2
Field

Saves
Field 8

St. Francis 17-14 loss

Goals
Fluegge
Zepfel 4
Holland-McCowan 2
Lee 4
Murphy
Harrison 2

Assists
Fluegge 2
Lee 3
Harrison
Woolway

Steals
Fluegge 2
Zepfel 3
Holland-McCowan 2
Lee 2
Harrison 3

Saves
Woolway 13