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Women's Water Polo Downs Mt. Holyoke, Wellesley

By Darren Castro

The MIT women's water polo team won two of their three games last weekend during the Women's Water Polo Non-League Championships at MIT's Alumni Pool. Friday night MIT thrashed Mt. Holyoke 19-5. On Saturday morning, MIT lost a very close game 7-4 to Harvard University, but then finished its season with a 12-2 win over Wellesley College that afternoon.

In Friday's game, MIT combined a strong offensive performance with some excellent goaltending by Janet Woods '95. MIT peppered the Mt. Holyoke goal with 32 shots and converted six of their seven six-on-five player advantage situations. MIT jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game.

Cheryl Klepser G started the scoring binge by following up a shot by Amy Smith G that had rebounded off the goal post. Smith tallied the second goal off a pass from the wing by Clara Yang '95. Stacy Nemeroff '97 and Karin Muller G, each of whom finished with three goals, scored before Klepser converted again.

Mt. Holyoke then netted a goal to break their scoreless streak. After the teams traded goals, making the score 6-2 in MIT's favor, MIT tallied eight of the next nine goals to take a 14-3 halftime lead. Key contributions during the run came from Klepser (two goals and four assists), Smith (three goals and two assists), and Yang (two goals and one assist). While MIT rested their starters during the third quarter, Woods shone in the goal. She made nine saves on the 11 shots she faced and finished with 14 saves for the game.

With the score 16-5 at the start of the fourth quarter, MIT used the reminder of the game to work on patiently setting up their half-pool offense using drivers towards the hole from the umbrella set-up. The leading scores for the game were Klepser (five goals and seven assists), Smith (three goals and three assists) and Yang (three goals and three assists).

In their second game of the tournament, MIT lost a hard-fought match to Harvard by the score of 7-4. Two weeks earlier MIT had lost to Harvard 17-2, but MIT elevated their game considerably in the rematch. Harvard scored first, but Cynthia Santillan '96 scored off a pass from Klepser during a six-on-five advantage to knot the game at 1-1. Early in the second quarter, Klepser converted a pass from Smith for a 2-1 lead which Smith quickly increased to 3-1 with a lob shot just over the goalie's hand as the shot clock was expiring. Harvard got two goals in the last 1:24 of the first half to tie the game 3-3.

Harvard got the first two goals of the second half before Klepser answered with a sweet backhand shot from the hole off a pass from Smith to pull MIT within one goal at 5-4. Harvard iced the game with a breakaway goal with 2 minutes left followed by a six-on-five tally with 44 seconds remaining in the game.

For the game, MIT outshot Harvard 18-14, but six shot-clock violations hurt MIT's offense. Woods had another outstanding game in goal as she made nine saves, several of which came on odd-player (one-player advantage) rushes toward the goal.

MIT's final game of the tournament was against Wellesley College. Wellesley was replacing Amherst, who had to pull out of the tournament. MIT dominated the first half of play, giving up only five shots by Wellesley while scoring six goals to take a 6-0 halftime lead. Klepser had three of the first half goals while Yang, Kathy Youngbear '96, and Gillain Lee '95 added one each.

In the second half, MIT got goals from six different players to take a 12-1 lead before Wellesley finally tallied again to account for the final 12-2 margin. The MIT second half scorers were Klepser, Jamie Rosenblum '96, Hillary Hudis '94, Amanda Gorner G, Deena Disraelly '96, and Katie Joynt '94. Three of the goals were assisted by Smith who demonstrated her long-passing abilities while playing goalie. Smith, who also played very well in goal by stopping nine of Wellesley's 11 shots, threw several passes three-quarters of the length of the pool to breaking MIT players. (Smith actually scored a goal while playing goalie in a game last year.)

MIT's women's water polo team finished the year with a final record of 3-5. Their leading scorers for the year were Klepser (25 goals and 12 assists), Smith (eight goals and 18 assists), Yang (seven goals and six assists) and Lee (four goals and two assists). As all four of these players, along with regular goalie Woods, are returning next year, MIT's team will have a good shot at improving their record and advancing to the US Water Polo Eastern Regional Championships.