Top Competition Awaits Women’s Water Polo in California

Top Competition Awaits Women’s Water Polo in California

Elise Molnar and the Crimson will travel to California March 11-17 (photo courtesy Harvard Athletic Communications).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's water polo team will face some of the toughest competition in the nation next week as the team travels to California during spring break. The Crimson will matchup against three ranked teams in five games during the six-day trip.

Schedule (All Times EST)
March 11 at No. 16 UC Santa Barbara, 3 p.m.
March 12 at Whittier, 6 p.m.
March 16 at No. 19 Long Beach State, 6 p.m.
March 17 at Cal Baptist, 12 p.m.
March 17 at No. 8 UC Irvine, 9 p.m.

The Crimson (8-5, 1-1 CWPA Southern) is led by junior Aisha Price and senior Devan Kennifer, who have each put up impressive numbers this season. Price leads the team with 37 goals, while Kennifer has added 34 scores to go along with her team-highs in assists (22) and steals (49). Senior Monica Zdrojewski has also contributed 22 goals, 20 assists and 25 steals.

Dukes Named Player of the Week
Ariel Dukes stopped 32 shots over the course of four games at last weekend's Harvard Invitational to earn the CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Week award March 8. The freshman had 10 saves, her most of the weekend, in a 13-8 win over Bucknell and also added an assist in the victory. Dukes totaled two assists and three steals during the four-game invite.

The Crimson in California
This will mark the 13th consecutive season that Harvard has made a trip to the Golden State. Last season, the Crimson went 2-5 during its spring break trip with wins over Santa Clara and Fresno Pacific. Over the last 12 season, Harvard owns a 26-26 record in California.

No. 16 UC Santa Barbara
The Gauchos (11-10) are led by Shelby Haroldson, who has registered 54 points (19 goals, 35 assists) and a team-high 31 steals. Bryce Winton is the team's leading goal scorer with 24. 

Harvard has not faced UC Santa Barbara since 2003, when it lost 12-4, and trails in the all-time series, 2-0.

The Poets (4-7) began the year ranked No. 6 in the country, but have since fallen out of the rankings. Most recently, Whittier dropped four straight games at the Posada Royale Invite.

The Crimson and Whittier have met on one previous occasion, an 8-5 Harvard win in 2000.

No. 19 Long Beach State
Long Beach State (4-8) started the season just 2-6, but has rebounded to win two of its last three. The 49ers beat No. 20 UC San Diego and Santa Clara last week, but fell to No. 2 Stanford. The Beach is led by junior Melissa Matheson's 20 scores, while sophomore Kelly Ringel has stopped 106 shots in goal.

The Crimson fell to the 49ers, 14-7, in 2000 in the only previous meeting between the two schools.

Cal Baptist
The Lancers (8-7), which is receiving votes in the most recent CWPA poll, is on a four game winning streak entering the week. Petra Kovacs has been the most prolific scorer for Cal Baptist, as the senior has found the back of the cage 27 times this season.

The Lancers own a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series against Harvard, including wins in the last two meetings in 2007 and 2008.

No. 8 UC Irvine
The Anteaters are the highest ranked team on Harvard's schedule, as UC Irvine is ranked No. 8 in the latest CWPA poll. The 'Eaters have played four teams ranked in the top seven, going 1-5 against the nation's top squads. Jessy Cardey leads the 'Eaters with 19 goals.

This will be the first meeting between Harvard and UC Irvine.