Men's Water Polo Gears Up For CWPA Championships This Weekend

Men's Water Polo Gears Up For CWPA Championships This Weekend

Harvard enters the weekend as the No. 3 seed (Photo Courtsey: Gil Talbot).

The No. 17 Harvard men's water polo team will travel to the Collegiate Water Polo Association Championships in Providence, R.I., for the third consecutive season. The Crimson's second-place finish at the Northern Division Championships Nov. 9-10 earned the squad the No. 3 seed and a bye into the second round of action. Harvard will face the winner of Southern Division's sixth-seeded Princeton and Northern Division 11th-seeded Iona.

About the Field
Formerly known as the CWPA Eastern Championship, this year's tournament has expanded from an eight-team format to a 12-team event. Six of the 12 teams are currently ranked in the CPWA Varsity Top-20 with St. Francis at the top at No. 13 followed by the United States Naval Academy (No. 16), Harvard (No. 17), Princeton (No. 18), host Brown (No. 19) and Bucknell (No. 20).  The six ranked teams represent the top six seeds for the tournament with Mercyhurst, John Hopkins, George Washington, MIT, Iona and Fordham rounding out the bottom-half of the bracket.

Championship Berth on the Line
For 11 of the 12 teams in the field, their 2013 season will draw to a close; however, the champion will qualify for the NCAA Men's Water Polo National Championships, Dec. 7-8 at the Avery Aquatics Center on the campus of Stanford University.

Schedule of Events
The 20-game championship will feature eight games on Friday, Nov. 22, with the remaining 12 games being played on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 23-24. For more information regarding the schedule and the championship, please click here.  For more information regarding tickets and parking please click here. 

Watch it Live
The CWPA will be providing a live video broadcast of the 20-game championship.  The stream will cost $10 per game or $25 for the entire weekend.  For more information or to purchase a subscription please click here.

Last Time Out
Harvard hosted the CWPA Northern Division championship as the top-seed Nov. 9-10 at Blodgett Pool.  The Crimson defeated MIT, 9-6, to advance to the title game for the first time since 2007.  In the championship game, Harvard faced then No. 18 St. Francis.  After a closely contested first half, the Terriers came out after intermission to outscore the Crimson, 11-3 in the second half to secure the win and the programs' eighth CWPA Northern Championship.

The Crimson downed MIT behind hat tricks from Noah Harrison and Joey Colton while Dan Stevens dished out two assists and Harrison and John Holland-McCowan both tallied three steals. In the final game of the weekend, Harrison, Stevens, Ben Zepfel and Viktor Wrobel netted a goal while Stevens and Colton had four steals apiece.

Related Link: No. 17 Men's Water Polo Advances to Finals of CWPA Northern Championships
Related Link: No. 17 Men's Water Polo Falls to No. 18 St. Francis in CWPA Northern Championship Game

Last Year at CWPA Championships
Last season, the Crimson traveled to the Eastern Championships for the second consecutive time and posted a 1-2 mark to finish seventh at the event. The Crimson fell to the top-seeded Bucknell in the opener, 15-13, before succumbing to Brown's second-half rally, 16-11. In the seventh place contest, Harvard's fourth-quarter surge led by Holland-McCowan's hat trick was enough to push the Crimson past MIT, 10-7.  St. Francis went on to claim the 2012 CWPA Eastern Championship narrowly edging Bucknell, 10-9, in overtime to advance to the NCAA tournament.

Third Times a Charm
Harvard qualifies for the CWPA Championship for the third consecutive season under four-year head coach Ted Minnis.  In 2011 and 2012, Minnis led the Crimson to two straight seventh place finishes. The Crimson has qualified for this event 21 times with the best finish in program history happening in 2001 when the team placed third.

Racking up the Awards
Harrison and Stevens picked up weekly awards from the CWPA for the week of Nov. 11 for their efforts at the Northern Division Championships. Harrison was tabbed Player of the Week while Stevens garnered Rookie of the Week honors. Harvard has now won 15 CWPA weekly awards while 18 players have been on the weekly honor roll.

Colin Woolway leads the Crimson with five individual honors, winning Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Sept. 30, Oct. 14 and Nov. 4. Harrison has been tabbed Player of the Week four times (Sept. 23, Sept. 30, Oct. 14, and Nov. 11). Stevens Colton and Wrobel have each picked up Rookie of the Week accolades.  Colton won the award Sept. 9, Oct. 14 and Oct. 28. Wrobel brought the honor to Cambridge Sept. 30 while Stevens has garnered the award twice (Nov. 6 and Nov. 11).

Related Link: Harrison, Stevens Pick Up CWPA Weekly Awards

National Ranking
Harvard currently sits at No. 17 in the CWPA national rankings. The Crimson, which hasn't been ranked since the 2002 season, first breached the poll during the week of Oct. 2, landing in a tie for 19th, and has remained in the rankings for seven consecutive weeks. The best rank in program history was 15th during the week of Oct. 9, 2002.

Top of the Class
Harvard's underclassmen have been a vital part of the team's success in 2013. The group has accounted for 87.5-percent of goals (267/305), 87.8-percent of assists (167/190), 83.6-percent of steals (271/324) and 79.9-percent of saves (199/249).

Share the Wealth
Eight Crimson athletes have reached double figure scoring this season as Harrison continues to lead the pack with 65 goals followed by Zepfel (48), Colton (42) and Blake Lee (31). Every member of the squad has dished out at least one assist and registered a single steal this season. Seven Crimson athletes have tallied 10 or more helpers, while Colton (51), Lee (39) and Harrison (25) are the team leaders in assists. Twelve (12) Crimson athletes have registered double digit steals with Harrison (62), Stevens (46), Colton (40), Robbie Fluegge (33) and Lee (31) ranking in the top five.

Scouting the Field
Harvard has faced both potential opponents at least once this season.  At the Princeton Invitational Sept. 14-15, Harvard dropped a 14-7 decision to Princeton. The Crimson and Tigers have met 37 times with Princeton leading the all-times series, 24-13. The Crimson split its game against Iona in CWPA Northern Division conference play. The Crimson fell, 18-16, in overtime before handing the Gaels an 18-15 decision in the two teams' next meeting. The Crimson holds a 30-19 advantage all-time against Iona.

A Closer Look at No. 18 Princeton (17-4, 6-1 Southern)
Princeton comes into the tournament as the sixth-seed by virtue of a third place finish at the CWPA Southern Division Championships at Navy, Nov. 8-10. The Tigers advanced to the semifinals after cruising past Gannon, 15-8. Princeton fell, 12-10, to Navy to move into the third place game where the Tigers defeated Mercyhurst, 9-7. The Tigers are led by Drew Hoffenberg and Jovan Jeremic who have 51 and 52 goals, respectively. Hoffenberg leads the team in assists while Thomas Nelson is top among the Tigers with 38 steals. Alex Gow (143 saves) and Ben Dearborn (80 saves) have both seen time in net for Princeton this season.

A Closer Look at Iona (7-24, 4-8 Northern)
Earning of the four at-large bids for the tournament, Iona enters the weekend as the 11th seeded team with an overall record of 7-24. The Gaels dropped a close, 11-10 decision to MIT before downing Connecticut College and Fordham to take fifth at the CWPA Northern Division Championships, Nov. 9-10. Offensively, Iona is led by Jake Lloyd (54 goals and 12 assists) and Ian Thompson (29 goals and three assists).  On the other side of the ball, Lee Stiles leads the team with 30 steals and Stefan Hill anchors the defense in net registering 186 saves in 21 games.