No. 9 Men’s Water Polo’s Historic Season Comes to an End Against No. 1 USC

Senior Noah Harrison recorded his 85th goal of the season against the Trojans (Catharyn Hayne).

– No. 9 Harvard men's water polo ended the most successful season in Harvard water polo history with a 19-4 defeat at the hands of No. 1 USC at Spieker Aquatics Complex in NCAA Final Four action Saturday afternoon.

The Crimson finished the 2016 campaign with a mark of 27-7, the best in program history. Harvard made its first-ever NCAA Championship appearance and went on to win two NCAA tournament games with victories over then-No. 12 Bucknell and No. 9 UC Davis to earn a spot in the Final Four.

Harvard recorded its third-straight season with 20-plus wins for the first time in school history and defeated a program-record 13 ranked opponents this season. The Crimson won the first conference championship in school history, taking home the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) Championship with tournament wins over MIT, then-No. 13 Princeton and then-No. 10 Brown.

In the Final Four matchup with No. 1 USC, the Crimson fell behind early as the Trojans took a 4-0 lead after the first quarter.

USC locked down on the defensive end for the remainder of the half, holding Harvard scoreless while extending its advantage to 11-0.

After a Trojans' goal to begin the second half, Harvard rattled off consecutive scores to make it a 12-2 contest. Freshman Charlie Owens and senior Noah Harrison both found the back of the net for Harvard during the run.

USC managed to tack on another score before the end of the third quarter, and the Crimson trailed 13-2 heading into the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, freshman Austin Sechrest and junior Harry Tafur added goals for the Crimson. The Trojans went on to earn the 19-4 victory and clinch a spot in the NCAA Championship match.

Seniors Joey Colton and Dan Stevens, along with sophomore Nick Bunn and freshman Bennie Seybold each tallied an assist against the top-ranked Trojans.

Sophomore goaltender Anthony Ridgley totaled seven stops in net, while sophomore Nathan Ondracek, senior Viktor Wrobel and Sechrest added to the defensive efforts with a steal, each.