Harvard Women's Water Polo Welcomes Wagner
Sophomore Aisha Price scored 11 goals last week in California (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
Harvard (10-9, 1-0 CWPA) returns home Sunday from its week-long spring break trip to California to host Wagner in a non-conference game at 2 p.m. in Blodgett Pool.
Last Time Out
Harvard scored in all four periods March 19 against No. 2 Cal but fell, 12-4. Sophomore Elise Molnar scored twice for the Crimson, once in the second and again in the third, freshman Shayna Price added a goal in the fourth frame and junior Shannon Purcell got the scoring started for the Crimson in the first quarter with Harvard's initial goal of the game, making it 2-1.
The Crimson's strength of schedule reared its head last week in California, as Harvard lost four straight and five of six. Those four consecutive losses, however, were all to teams either ranked or receiving votes in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Top-20 poll, and three of those five losses were by four goals or less. Junior co-captain Devan Kennifer leads all scorers for Harvard with 45 goals. Classmate Monica Zdrojewski has 37 scores and sophomore Aisha Price has found the back of the net 35 times. Junior Shannon Purcell has been running the offense with a team-leading 30 assists and Kennifer has been a force on defense with 51 steals this season.
The Seahawks (11-7) picked up three wins on their recent trip to California, most recently defeating Cal State Bakersfield, 14-10. Through 18 games, Chelsea Beck was Wagner's leading points scorer with 32 goals and 32 assists on the season. Goalie Laura Karbach had made 121 saves and grabbed 23 steals in goal.
Harvard holds a 5-4 edge in the all-time series against Wagner that began in 2004. The Crimson won both meetings between the two teams last season and has won three of the last four.
Aisha Price posted 11 goals, four assists and 11 takeaways in just five games last week in California, including taking control of the game against Cal State Monterey Bay March 13. She found the back of the net six times, dishing an assist and grabbing five steals in the 12-11 Crimson loss. Price has 35 scores and 35 takeaways to go with 15 helpers this season.
This spring's freshman class has made quite a splash for Harvard this year, making significant contributions on both ends of the pool in the players' first collegiate season. Jelena Cyr, Christy DiSilvestro, Riley Kessler, Shayna Price and Jamie Williams have totalled 65 goals, 34 assists and 58 steals as a quintet, amounting to 29 percent of the Crimson's scoring this season and 25 percent of the team's takeaways and helpers.
Playing 'Em Close
Harvard is 2-4 this season in games decided by three goals or less, including two close losses to top 15-ranked teams. In contrast, the Crimson is 7-1 in games decided by 10 goals or more.
Playing Both Sides of the Pool
Devan Kennifer has been putting in effort on offense and defense this season, leading the team in both goals and steals. Her 45 tallies outdistance the nearest teammate by eight and gives her a goals per game average of 2.37, and her 51 takeaways are 16 better than sophomore Aisha Price's 35 so far this season.
On three different occasions this season, the Crimson has received votes in the CWPA Top-20 poll, most recently in last week's March 16 poll as the team was in the midst of its seven-game West Coast swing.
Harvard will host a doubleheader April 2 as it welcomes Connecticut College and Marist for games at noon and 2 p.m., respectively.