Senior Viktor Wrobel recorded a goal in the 13-12 win over No. 12 Bucknell, marking the sixth time in the last seven games he has scored (Gil Talbot).
No. 9 Harvard vs. No. 9 UC Davis
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 9 Harvard men's water polo team (26-6) looks to clinch a spot in the NCAA Final Four as it takes on No. 9 UC Davis (23-5) at the Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley, California on Thursday afternoon. The most recent Collegiate Water Polo Association National Poll had the Crimson and Aggies deadlocked at the No. 9 spot.
Harvard is one of six teams remaining in the NCAA Championship tournament. The second round is comprised of two play-in games, with the winners joining No. 1 USC and No. 2 UCLA in the NCAA Final Four. Both play-in games will take place on Thursday, Dec. 1, with the final two rounds occurring on Dec. 3-4.
Last Time Out
The then-No. 10 Harvard men's water polo team defeated then-No. 12 Bucknell, 13-12, in sudden-death overtime Saturday afternoon to advance to the next round of the NCAA Championship. The Crimson earned its first NCAA Championship win in program history against the Bison. Senior Dan Stevens led the Crimson offense with a hat trick and two assists, while sophomore goaltender Anthony Ridgley tallied 13 saves in net. Harvard has now won 10 of its last 11 games, including five straight.
The Goal Heard 'Round the East Coast
In its first-ever NCAA Championship game, the Crimson found itself tied at 12-12 against No. 12 Bucknell in sudden-death overtime. After a Harvard defensive stop, Ridgley found junior Harry Tafur streaking behind the Bucknell defense. Tafur fought off a defender and beat the Bucknell goaltender to send the crowd at Blodgett Pool into a frenzy, securing the 13-12 win and another NCAA Championship match for the Crimson.
The Crimson won the inaugural NWPC Championship after earning the third seed with a 7-3 conference mark during the regular season. Harvard took down then-No.12 Princeton and then-No. 10 Brown, the top-two seeds in the tournament, after splitting the regular season series with each at 1-1. Harvard went back-and-forth with the Tigers throughout the contest, before Colton rattled in two consecutive goals to tie and then take the lead, 14-13, with less than a minute remaining. In the championship, the Crimson jumped out to a 3-0 advantage and led wire-to-wire, taking down the Bears, 11-7. Colton, along with seniors Noah Harrison and Dan Stevens, were selected to the NWPC Championship First Team, while sophomore Anthony Ridgley earned a nod to the NWPC Championship Second Team.
With the victory over No. 12 Bucknell, the Crimson set a single-season record with 26 wins. The 2016 squad bested the 2001 Crimson's 25-9 mark, adding to its list of accomplishments this season. Harvard won 20-plus games for the third consecutive season, marking the first time that has been done in program history. The Crimson opened the year with the best start in program history (12-2), defeated a program-record 12 ranked opponents and reached the highest ranking in Harvard history in the CWPA National Poll at No. 8 (Sept. 21).
Harvard's senior class has been exceptional as the Crimson continues its late-season success. All four seniors scored against Bucknell, led by a trio of goals from Dan Stevens and a pair from Joey Colton. Noah Harrison and Viktor Wrobel also found the back of the net, moving the Crimson to 7-0 this season when all four seniors tally a goal.
Scouting UC Davis
No. 9 UC Davis enters the NCAA Championship play-in matchup with a 23-5 overall record. The Aggies broke their own school record for single-season wins, while collecting its first conference title since 1997. The Crimson and Aggies meet for the third time this season with the season series split at 1-1. Harvard won the first contest on Sept. 3, 13-12, while UC Davis earned a 7-6 win on Oct. 22. UC Davis is led offensively by sophomore Ido Goldschmidt with 45 goals and 41 assists on the year, while junior goaltender Spencer Creed has taken care of duties in net with 221 stops this season. Goldschmidt was named the Western Water Polo Association Player of the Year, while Creed was selected as the WWPA Tournament MVP.