Photo courtesy: Gil Talbot Photography
HAYWARD, Calif.- March Madness knows no borders. This time of year sees a handful of underdogs pull off an incredible feat, stunning the favorite team. The Harvard women’s water polo team accomplished just that as it unleashed its potent offense to conquer its first ranked opponent of the season. The Crimson upset No. 19 Cal State East Bay, 15-11, Friday afternoon.
Harvard jumped out to an early 3-1 lead before the Pioneers drew close as the Crimson held onto a 5-4 lead after just eight minutes of action. Harvard extended its lead to two goals by outscoring Cal State East Bay 3-2 in the second quarter, as the team enjoyed an 8-6 advantage at the half. The Pioneers stormed back into the game by cutting the deficit to a single goal with Harvard still leading 10-9 after three periods of play. In the fourth stanza, the Crimson erupted for five goals and limited Cal State East Bay to just two scores. Harvard walked away with its 10th victory of the campaign, a 15-12 decision, to boost its record to 10-7. The Pioneers fall to 17-8, halting their five-game win streak.
A triumvirate of players scored hat-tricks for the Crimson in the match. Devan Kennifer, Patricia Smith and Monica Zdrojewski all buried three markers. Aisha Price and Shannon Purcell chipped in two scores apiece while Kristina Bergquist and Ita Barton-Kettleborough both tallied a goal. Laurel McCarthy made four saves between the posts.
Harvard will take on Pacific and Cal State Monterey Bay, March 20, in the final leg of its West Coast expedition.