Freshman Riley Kessler has recorded 11 goals and 11 steals so far in her rookie season (photo courtesy Kevin Burns).
Collegiate Water Polo Association play continues this weekend for the Harvard women's water polo team. The Crimson heads to College Park, Md., to face Southern Division opponents George Washington and host Maryland, as well as CWPA member Indiana.
Last Time Out
Harvard went 1-2 in three CWPA games last weekend. Four different players found the back of the net multiple times in a 16-13 win over Bucknell Saturday. The victory followed an 11-5 defeat at the hands of Princeton earlier in the day. Against No. 6 Michigan Sunday, the Wolverines' lead grew bit by bit until a second-half push was just not enough to overcome the deficit, as the Crimson fell, 13-10.
The Crimson (14-11, 1-1 CWPA) enters the weekend holding second place in the CWPA Southern Division at 1-1. Harvard has won four of its last six games. A total of six Harvard players have posted double-digit figures in goals, assists and steals so far, led by junior co-captain Devan Kennifer with 61 goals, 17 assists and 70 steals. Shannon Purcell (26 g., 43 a., 28 s.), Monica Zdrojewski (51 g., 22 a., 37 s.) and Aisha Price (45 g., 20 a., 46 s.) are the only Crimson players to have posted at least 20 goals, assists and steals.
About George Washington
The Colonials (6-13, 0-1 CWPA) split two CWPA games Sunday, defeating host Bucknell, 11-9, and falling to No. 6 Michigan, 15-5. They have won three of their last five games dating to March 26. George Washington is 0-1 in the CWPA Southern Division, losing to Princeton, 11-4, March 5. Junior Megan Walker earned her first Southern Division Player of the Week award, while freshman Rachael Bentley claimed her second Rookie of the Week honor, the CWPA announced Wednesday.
Harvard is 15-1 all-time against the Colonials. The Crimson has won eight straight in the series dating to 2004. George Washington's only win in the series came in 2004, a one-goal, 7-6 victory.
No. 13 Indiana (19-11, 3-2 CWPA) has solidified the third place spot in the CWPA Western Division after splitting two conference games Saturday, defeating Bucknell, 16-7, and falling to Hartwick, 8-5. The Hoosiers have four players who have scored more than 40 goals, led by Shae Fournier's 46 tallies.
Indiana has never lost to Harvard, leading the all-time series, 9-0. The two teams have not met since 2009 when Indiana won, 9-7. Five of the Hoosiers' nine victories in the series have come by three goals or less.
The Terrapins (13-13, 0-0 CWPA) are receiving votes in this week's CWPA Top-20 poll after snapping a four-game losing streak with a 15-9 win over Bucknell Sunday. Maryland has yet to face a CWPA Southern Division opponent, but will face all four foes, including Harvard, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Through 24 games, the Terrapins were led in scoring by Ally Beck with 38 scores.
Michigan has won six in a row against Harvard to lead the series, 14-3. Harvard's last win came in 2006 by a score of 8-7. Eleven of the teams' 17 meetings have been decided by three goals or less. The teams first met in 1990.
Setting The Mark
Saturday's 16-13 win over Bucknell gave Harvard its 14th win this season, topping the team's win total from each of the past four seasons. The Crimson finished 15-18 in 2006, and could top that mark with two wins in its final four regular season contests. The program record for wins in a season is 20, reached twice in 2000 and 2004.
For the second week in a row the CWPA named a Harvard player as its Southern Division Defensive Player of the Week. Tuesday it was Devan Kennifer receiving the honors, following Shayna Price's award April 5. Kennifer earned the nod for grabbing seven steals over three games Saturday and Sunday.
Shannon Purcell, Monica Zdrojewski and Aisha Price have posted the best all-around numbers for Harvard as the only players with at least 20 goals, assists and steals this season. Purcell has recorded 26 scores, leads the team with 43 assists and has grabbed 28 takeaways. Zdrowjewski is second on the team with 51 tallies, has dished 22 assists and has 37 steals on the year. Price is third on the team in scoring with 45 goals, notched her 20th assist Sunday against Michigan, and is second on the Crimson with 46 steals.
Unbeaten at Blodgett
With a doubleheader sweep April 2, Harvard finished the 2011 season a perfect 7-0 at Blodgett Pool. The Crimson outscored visiting opponents, 119-41, reached double-digits in scoring each home game and only allowed 10 or more goals once, as Marist notched 12 scores in a double-overtime loss to Harvard.
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 totaled 76 goals, 43 assists and 75 steals as a quintet, amounting to 28 percent of the Crimson's scoring this season, 26 percent of the team's takeaways and 25 percent of Harvard's assists.
Double It Up
Harvard's offense has been lighting up the scoreboard all season long, totaling 299 goals as a team and reaching double digits in scoring 16 times. The Crimson is 8-1 in games decided by 10 goals or more.
The Crimson upped the defensive effort against Connecticut College Sunday in holding its opponent under 10 goals for the 13th time this spring. Harvard is 12-1 when holding opponents to nine goals or less this season.
Devan Kennifer has been putting in effort on offense and defense this season, leading the team in both goals and steals with 61 scores and 70 takeaways. Her 61 tallies outdistance the nearest teammate by 10 and give her a goals per game average of 2.4, while her 70 steals are 24 better than teammate Aisha Price's 46 so far this season.
On three different occasions this season, the Crimson has received votes in the CWPA Top-20 poll, most recently in the March 16 poll as the team was in the midst of its seven-game West Coast swing.
Harvard will face Brown for the third time this season, this time in a neutral site, non-conference game Wednesday in Norton, Mass.