Harvard to Host, Compete at CWPA Eastern Championship

Max Eliot leads the Crimson with 41 goals this season (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
Max Eliot leads the Crimson with 41 goals this season (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – For the first time since 2007, the Crimson men’s water polo team will compete at the Men’s Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship. Harvard will also serve as the host institution for the 40th annual playing of the event Nov. 18-20.

The Field
Teams qualified for the Eastern Championship by placing in the top four of the Northern or Southern Division Championship. Each entrant is seeded based on its finish at its division championship, with St. Francis, Brown, Iona and Harvard representing the North and Navy, Princeton, Bucknell and Johns Hopkins representing the South. Click here for the complete schedule.

What’s at Stake?
Seven teams will see its season come to an end at Blodgett Pool, while the Eastern Champion will advance to the NCAA Championships Dec. 3-4 at the Spieker Aquatics Center on the campus of California-Berkeley.

Find Your Seat
Weekend passes and single day tickets will be available for purchase. General admission tickets are priced at $25 for a weekend pass and $13 for a single day. Harvard students and staff receive a discounted rate as a weekend pass is valued at $12, while a single-day ticket can be purchased for $5.

Watch From Home
For fans unable to attend this weekend’s action, a live video stream will be available to purchase through the CWPA. A weekend pass can be acquired for $25, while single games will be available for $10/game. Click here to view the CWPA’s streaming page.

Last Year’s Eastern Champion
St. Francis (N.Y.) won a pair of games decided by one goal against Johns Hopkins and Bucknell, before downing Navy, 8-4, in the 2010 Men’s CWPA Eastern Championship. Last year’s Northern Division No. 1 seed advanced to the NCAA Championship, where it lost to Southern California, 10-7, and Loyola Marymount, 9-7, to finish in fourth place.

Harvard’s Last Appearance
The Crimson has not qualified for the Eastern Championship since 2007, when the squad finished third at the Northern Championship. Harvard started the 2007 Eastern Championship with a 9-7 win over Johns Hopkins behind four goals from Bret Voith ’11, brother of current volunteer assistant John Voith ’07, including two in the final frame to help the Crimson pull away with the victory. After an 18-6 loss to St. Francis (N.Y.) in the semifinal, Harvard fell to George Washington, 7-5, to finish in third place.

The Crimson
Harvard (9-18, 1-5 CWPA Northern) qualified for the Eastern Championship after finishing in fourth place at the Northern Division Championship. The Crimson, the North’s No. 6 seed, used three goals in overtime and a hat trick from Mike Katzer to upset No. 3 seed MIT, 11-10, in the first round. Harvard was guaranteed at least a fourth-place finish and berth at the Eastern Championship after getting past MIT, but the final two games of the tournament determined seeding at Easterns. The Crimson fell to Brown, 18-9, in the semifinal and Iona, 13-11, in the third-place game to attain the No. 4 seed.

A Colorful First Round
The Crimson opens with Navy (22-6, 5-3 CWPA Southern-East), the Southern Division champion, in the first round.

The Midshipmen won four games at the CWPA Southern Division Championship and enter the Eastern Championship on a six-game winning streak. Navy avenged two regular-season losses to Princeton by beating the Tigers, 10-5, in the Southern Championship Game Nov. 6.

Navy owns a 24-2 all-time advantage in the series history with the Crimson. The institutions have split two contests at the CWPA Eastern Championships in the last ten years with Harvard picking up a 5-3 win in 2001 and Navy taking a 10-5 decision in 2004.

Luka Leading the Way
Senior Luka Babic was named to the CWPA Northern Division Player of the Week Honor Roll each of the last two weeks after putting up impressive numbers at the Ivy Championship and CWPA Northern Division Championship. The co-captain, who tallied 11 scores before Oct. 29, has found the back of the cage in five of the last six games and totaled 10 goals in that span. Babic has also contributed nine assists and seven steals in the past two tournaments.

Lucky Number 13
Senior goalie Alexandre Popp had a huge weekend during the CWPA Northern Division Championships. The Palo Alto, Calif., native stopped 13 shots in each of the tournament’s three games, marking the first time this season he has accumulated double-digit saves in three consecutive contests.