The Crimson travels to Iona for a tripleheader. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – No. 20 Harvard women's water polo kicks off the 2015 campaign with three matches, Sunday, Feb. 1 at Iona's Hynes Athletic Center. Harvard starts the day at 8:30 a.m. against Iona and the Crimson returns to the pool at 11:30 a.m. to take on Villanova, before closing out the day against St. Francis at 1:30 p.m.
The Past is the Past
The Crimson finished the 2014 season 15-20, with a 2-3 mark in the CWPA Southern Division.
A young team led by graduating seniors Jelena Cyr and Shayna Price opened the season hot, going 7-3 in the first ten matches of the season.
The Crimson cooled off after facing a gauntlet of CWPA Varsity Top 20 opponents. Between March 8 and March 22, Harvard played seven teams that finished in the in the Top 20, including power house programs like UCLA, San Jose State and UC – Santa Barbara.
While the season did not go as planned, Harvard battled in every match, with more than half the losses coming by three goals or fewer.
Back and Better than Ever
Harvard will boast an experienced squad with depth at every position. The Crimson sees 10 players return for the 2015 season, bringing with them 210 goals, 163 assists, 232 steals and 226 saves.
The team is led by senior captain Ariel Dukes and junior Yoshi Andersen. Dukes has been the Crimson's starting goalie since arriving in Cambridge as a freshman in 2012. Last season, Dukes posted 226 saves and a team-high 42 steals, and will be looked upon to lead the team from the defensive side of the pool.
Andersen has been a prolific goal scorer in her two seasons with the Crimson. As a freshman, Andersen burst on to the scene with 61 goals, earning the CWPA Rookie of the Year award and CWPA Southern Division 2nd-team honors. She followed that with a fantastic sophomore performance, recording team-highs in goals and assists, 72 and 39 respectively, and CWPA Southern Division 1st-team honors. Her presence up front will be key to Harvard's offensive attack.
The Gales finished 2014 15-16 with a 9-3 record against MAAC opponents. Iona lost its two leading goal scorers to graduation and will be leaning on junior Taylor Silva to fill the void.
Harvard leads the all-time series 14-4 and is on a three-match win streak after going 3-0 against the Gales in 2014.
The Wildcats struggled last season finishing 10-20 and 6-9 in the MAAC. Villanova will field a young team, with six freshman and only two seniors, but return three All-MAAC selections.
The Crimson holds a dominate 21-2 all-time series lead over Villanova. Harvard is currently on an 18-match win streak, last losing to the Wildcats in 2000.
About St. Francis
The Terriers suffered their sixth –consecutive losing season since 2008, going 4-19 overall and 0-12 the MAAC. Senior Bernadett Laszlo will lead the Terriers after earning All-MAAC 2nd-team honors last season.
Harvard and St. Francis have only faced off once, with the Crimson winning, 14-13, in 2008.
The Crimson is back in action next weekend with four matches at the Princeton Invitational. Saturday, Feb. 7, Harvard will take on Wagner at 1 p.m. and Princeton at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, the Crimson face off against Villanova at 8:30 a.m. and Iona at 11:30 a.m.