Women’s Water Polo Crushes Fresno Pacific, Nearly Upsets No. 11 UC Davis

Women’s Water Polo Crushes Fresno Pacific, Nearly Upsets No. 11 UC Davis

Balding continues to find the back of the net adding six more on second day of road trip. (Zack Willimson)

DAVIS, Calif. – Harvard women's water polo continued its California road trip with a a pair of games Monday against Fresno Pacific and No. 11 UC Davis. The Crimson (13-6) opened its doubleheader against Fresno Pacific (7-17), taking down the Sunbirds, 13-5, before returning to the pool in the afternoon to take on UC Davis (14-10). Harvard pushed the highly ranked Aggies to double overtime, but eventually fell, 11-10.

Vs. Fresno Pacific
Melissa Balding was the hot hand once again, netting four goals for the second consecutive game. The first quarter was close, ending with the Crimson ahead, 4-2, thanks to three goals from Balding. Harvard's offense put on a repeat performance in the second period scoring four more goals. Charlotte Hendrix and Yoshi Andersen both scored two goals each in the quarter, pushing the Crimson advantage to 8-3.

Harvard opened the second half with three third quarter goals. Balding scored her game-high fourth in the period but Rachel Lobato lead the way with two of her own. The Crimson tacked on two more goals in the final frame to secure the 13-5 victory.

Vs. No. 11 UC Davis
Andersen and Hendrix starred against UC Davis both finished with five points on two goals and three assists. The Aggies dominated the first half of the match, going up 4-2 after the first and 5-2 at the half. After allowing four goals in the first quarter, Cleo Harrington stepped up, turning away four shots to keep Harvard within three.

Both teams came out firing in the third quarter, combining for eight goals. Within the first minute, the teams had already traded goals with Andersen notching her second of the game. UC Davis then went on a 2-0 run building an 8-3 lead with four minutes to play in the third. After a timeout, Harvard fired back with two goals of its own behind Balding and Hendrix. The Crimson would surrender one more goal in the quarter but with nine second left Balding was able to find the back of the net, cutting the Aggie lead to 9-6.

With an upset-bid within striking distance, the Crimson stepped up in both phases of the game. Harrington made four key saves to shut out UC Davis in the final quarter, the first time the Aggies did not score in a quarter. Victoria Frager sparked the comeback 35 seconds into the quarter with her only goal of the game. UC Davis was hit with an ejection with four minutes left to play. Five seconds later, Kalina Grabb snapped the back of the net to pull the Crimson within one. Then just as quickly, Alexis Del Toro tied the match at 9-9 with three minutes left to play. Both teams lockdown on defense to close out regulation, with Del Toro's goal forcing overtime.

In the first overtime period UC Davis scored early to take the lead back at 10-9. The Harvard offense struggled to get on track in extra time being shut out in the first period. In the second overtime, Harvard struck first with Del Toro netting her second goal of the game, tying the game for a second time. With 44 seconds remaining, UC Davis was able to retake the lead, fending off Harvard's upset bid, 11-10.

Harvard is back in action tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17 to take on No. 15 Pacific at 10 p.m. EST. Watch all the action live HERE.