Junior Monica Zdrojewski (center) is fifth on the team in steals with 18 (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
The Harvard women's water polo team goes west for its annual trip to California for seven games in seven days against some of the country's best programs starting Sunday.
*All Times EST
at Santa Clara 3 p.m.
at Cal State Monterey Bay 8 p.m.
vs. Fresno Pacific 4 p.m.
at No. 15 UC Davis 8 p.m.
at No. 10 San Jose State 7 p.m.
at Cal State East Bay 5 p.m.
at No. 2 California 4 p.m.
Last Time Out
Devan Kennifer, Elise Molnar and Shannon Purcell each had goals for Harvard Feb. 27, which fell, 12-3, to top-seeded No. 20 Princeton in the third-place game to finish fourth at the ECAC Championship hosted by Bucknell. The Crimson offense produced just its second single-digit goal output of the season in 12 games. The Tigers (5-2) jumped out to a 6-1 advantage after the first period.
The Crimson (8-4, 1-0 CWPA) has gone over the double-digit mark in goals nine times in its 12 games this season, including putting up 15 goals or more in seven contests. Harvard, which is averaging 14.3 goals per game, is led by junior co-captain Devan Kennifer's 35 scores. Junior Monica Zdrojewski has 26 tallies and sophomore Aisha Price has found the back of the net 24 times. Junior Shannon Purcell has been running the offense with a team-leading 20 assists.
Harvard has seen mixed results on its trips to California in recent years, compiling a 12-12 record over the past five seasons. The Crimson has gone 6-6 in the last two years, including a 4-0 mark against 2011 opponents Cal State Monterey Bay, Cal State East Bay and Fresno Pacific.
A Return Home
The Harvard water polo coaching staff, as well as eight Crimson players, will be making themselves feel at home during the trip to California as they make their way through their home state. Head coach Ted Minnis will celebrate a mini homecoming Wednesday when he returns to his alma mater San Jose State, and assistant coach Jessi Wood will do the same March 19 at Cal, where she graduated from in 2008. Devan Kennifer (Monterey, Calif.) will feel right at home when the team takes on Cal State Monterey Bay Sunday in Seaside, Calif.
Playing Both Sides of the Pool
Devan Kennifer has been putting in effort on offense and defense this season, leading the team in both goals and steals. Her 35 goals outdistances the nearest teammate by nine and gives her a goals per game average of 2.92, and her 33 takeaways are seven better than freshman Shayna Price's 26 so far this season.
Monica Zdrojewski is among the Harvard team leaders in all three major statistical categories this season. Her 26 goals is second on the team to Kennifer's 35, her 17 assists are second to Purcell's 20 helpers, and her 18 steals are fifth on the team.
Santa Clara (8-11) is receiving votes in this week's CWPA national poll. The Broncos have lost three of their last four, including a 9-3 loss to CWPA member Indiana Feb. 27, but following Saturday's 5-1 win over No. 19 Pacific, the team has won 8 of 13.
Harvard and Santa Clara have only met once, with the Crimson taking a close, 9-8 victory over the Broncos at Blodgett Pool in 2003.
No. 15 UC Davis
The 15th-ranked Aggies (9-6) have won six in a row and are led in scoring by Jessica Dunn with 26 goals in 14 games. Carmen Eggert leads the team in assists with 22 and Riane Woods has 97 saves in goal.
UC Davis leads the all-time series against the Crimson, 4-0. The Aggies won last season's meeting in Davis, Calif., 12-4.
No. 10 San Jose State
The Spartans (10-8) have won three in a row and four of their last six, including three wins over top 15 teams. Timi Molnar and Adriana Vogt lead the team in scoring with 39 goals each, while Meagan Minson has made 167 stops in goal.
San Jose State and Harvard have just one meeting in their all-time history with each other. The Spartans took a 13-7 victory last season in San Jose to hold the 1-0 series lead.
Cal State East Bay
The Pioneers (10-7), winners of seven of their last nine games, are receiving votes in this week's CWPA national poll. Claire Pierce leads the team with 44 goals and 37 steals, while Sarah Grunberger has controlled the offense with a team-leading 34 assists.
Another one-time meeting all-time series for Harvard, the Crimson defeated Cal State East Bay, 15-11, last season in the Pioneers' home pool for the 1-0 advantage in the series.
No. 2 California
The second-ranked Golden Bears (14-3) have won six of their last seven and lead the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings while trailing rival Stanford by nine points for the No. 1 spot in the CWPA national poll. Breda Vosters leads Cal in scoring with 37 goals.
This will be the first matchup between Harvard and Cal in the pool.
Harvard returns home March 27 for a three-game home stand beginning with a 2 p.m. game against Wagner.