Junior Colin Chiapello scored the game-winning goal against No. 15 Air Force (Gil Talbot).
PRINCETON, N.J. – No. 12 Harvard men's water polo rolled to two wins over nationally-ranked teams on the opening day of the Princeton Invitational Saturday. The Crimson defeated No. 15 Air Force, 13-12, in sudden-death overtime before taking down No. 10 UC San Diego, 12-10.
The victories over top-20 opponents marked the second consecutive weekend that the Crimson defeated two ranked opponents. Harvard moved to 5-1 on the season, including four wins against nationally-ranked teams.
Seniors Noah Harrison and Joey Colton led the Harvard offense throughout the day. Harrison totaled five goals and two assists, while Colton finished with ten points over the two games, scoring four goals and adding a team-high six helpers.
In the opener against No. 15 Air Force, the Crimson came out as the aggressors and controlled the game early. Senior Viktor Wrobel and Colton each scored two goals in the opening half as Harvard held a 6-2 advantage after two quarters of play.
Air Force responded after the intermission, narrowing the deficit to two (8-6) after the third quarter. The Falcons continued their momentum into the fourth and took the lead late in the contest.
Harvard managed to tie the game at 10-10, as Colton found Harrison for the score to force overtime late in the fourth.
Harrison added goals in the first and second overtime periods as the Crimson remained in a deadlock with the Falcons. The game was tied after double overtime, forcing a sudden-death period.
Once again, it was Harrison with the clutch play, this time on the defensive end. The senior forced a steal on a man-down situation, leading to a goal from junior Colin Chiapello on the counter attack. The score was the second of the game for Chiapello and secured the 13-12 win for the Crimson.
Freshman Austin Sechrest impressed with a four-point performance, dishing out a career-high three assists to go along with a goal. He also led Harvard with two steals.
In between the pipes, freshman Nikhil Suri stopped eight Falcon shots as he directed the defensive efforts.
In game two against No. 10 UC San Diego, the Crimson used a team effort to take down the Tritons. Five different Crimson recorded two goals and junior Harry Tafur and Chiapello each totaled three assists to lead the offensive attack.
Colton scored both of his goals in the first quarter as Harvard led 4-3 after the first period. Senior Dan Stevens scored the lone goal for Harvard in the second quarter as the Tritons tied the contest right before the intermission (5-5).
The Crimson exploded in the third quarter, including two goals from Wrobel and the second goal from sophomore Nick Bunn to make it 9-7.
Stevens added another score to start the final frame before Harrison collected two goals of his own to preserve the victory for Harvard.
Defensively, Harrison totaled a team-high three steals, while sophomore goalkeeper Anthony Ridgley played stellar in net, recording 11 saves against UC San Diego.
Harvard will be back in action for day two of the Princeton Invitational on Sunday, Sept. 11 when they take on Fordham at 1:30 p.m.