Photo of Elise Molnar, who scored two goals against Bucknell, courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Devan Kennifer recorded a third period hat-trick to lead the Harvard women's water polo team to a 13-8 win over Bucknell to earn a spot in the fifth-place game at the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship at Indiana's Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center.
Kennifer was named Player of the Game by the CWPA for her performance. The first-team all-conference selection played the final three quarters with two ejections.
The Crimson never trailed and used a 6-3 scoring advantage in the third period behind Kennifer's trio of markers to turn a 5-4 advantage into a 11-7 lead with eight minutes to play.
Tied 2-2 with 4:55 remaining in the first period, Harvard regained the lead and expanded the margin to a pair of tallies as Shayna Price cashed in on a five-meter penalty shot at 4:37 and Lizzie Abbott tossed in an even-strength score at 4:22 to make it 4-2.
Bucknell sliced the lead to one by the end of the second period as Stephanie Ovalle contributed a man-up goal at 6:02 and Julianne Valdes put one in with 40 seconds on the clock, while Harvard's Shannon Purcell registered an even-strength tally of her own for a 5-4 Crimson lead at intermission.
The Bison were able to tie the score at 5-5 after 52 seconds of play in the third quarter but Harvard engineered a three-goal outburst to retake the lead and add some cushion. Monica Zdrojewski ignited the run with a man-up goal at 6:46, before Kennifer and Purcell tacked on even-strength scores at 6:17 and 5:44 to build the lead to 8-5.
The Bucknell offense put in a tally to move the Bison back to within two at 8-6 with 4:59 left in the period, but Kennifer lobbed balls into the cage at 4:39 and 3:47 before Elise Molna finished a man-up opportunity at 1:51 to make it an 11-6 game.
Harvard equaled its five-goal lead in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter and held on for the its 18th win of the season.
The squads exchanged tosses on man-up chances to conclude the game as the Crimson knocked off Bucknell for the second time this season following a 16-13 win during the regular season.
Harvard will have a chance to play for fifth-place, when it takes on No. 20 Princeton Sunday at noon. A win would give the Crimson its best finish at the tournament since 2005 and second most wins in program history (19).
Harvard 13, Bucknell 8
Harvard Goals: Devan Kennifer (3); Elise Molnar (2); Monica Zdrojewski (2); Shannon Purcell (2); Aisha Price (2); Lizzie Abbott; Shayna Price
Harvard Assists: Shannon Purcell (4), Lizzie Abbott, Elise Molnar, Shayna Price
Harvard Steals: Kennifer (4), Elise Molnar (2), Aisha Price, Jamie Williams, Shannon Purcell, Shayna Price
Saves: Harvard - Laurel McCarthy (7)