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Women's Water Polo Finishes 1-2 at Tournament


Adriane Chapman--The Tech
Janet Woods '95, the MIT goalie, blocks a shot during Friday's match with Wesleyan.

Darren Castro
Staff Reporter

The women's water polo team went 1­2 at the Eastern Water Polo Association North Division Playoffs held this past weekend at Harvard University.

MIT lost close matches to both Wesleyan University (8­7) and Harvard (11­8), but rebounded to defeat Dartmouth College 12­10 in a thrilling overtime match. MIT finished fifth in the seven-team playoff. The top four finishers - Harvard, Brown University, University of Massachusetts and Wesleyan - advanced to the Eastern Regional Championships next weekend in Providence, R. I.

MIT's opening game Friday night was a heart-breaking 8­7 loss to Wesleyan University. The game matched the fifth-seeded MIT team against fourth-seeded women from Wesleyan. MIT needed to win in order to advance to the Championships.

Despite the high stakes, MIT came out disappointingly flat to open the game. A series of turnovers compounded by poor defense allowed Wesleyan to stake a 3­0 lead five minutes into the game. MIT clawed back into the game with two goals before the end of the first quarter, first by Maroula Bratakos G, then by Cheryl Klepser G.

Hard work and elegant play earned MIT a 7-5 lead in the third quarter. But the game turned in the closing seconds of the quarter when Bratakos was injured and had to be helped from the pool.

MIT struggled without Bratakos. Wesleyan scored on breakaways to tie the game at 7­7 with 3:54 remaining in the game. While MIT was unable to generate anything offensively, Wesleyan was surging toward the go-ahead goal. Despite a valiant defensive performance by MIT, Wesleyan finally broke through for the game winner with 59 seconds left in the game. Wesleyan was able to run out the clock, and dashed MIT's hopes for further post­season play.

Late effort helps Harvard

MIT's second game against Harvard University on Saturday night was another hard-fought, close loss. Bratakos recovered from Friday's game and scored first to give MIT a short­lived 1­0 lead 45 seconds into the game.

The lead was not to last, however. Several MIT turnovers led to four straight goals for Harvard before Smith scored to cut the deficit in half at 4­2. Harvard built on that lead as the game wore on, although MIT got a big boost when Smith scored from half­pool on the ensuing restart to cut Harvard's half­time lead to three.

MIT carried that momentum into the third quarter where they scored four of the next five goals to tie the game 7­7. Harvard and MIT traded goals to open the second half. Then Jeannette Chian '98 came up with a huge save in goal on a 1­0 breakaway and drew a major foul against the frustrated Harvard attacker. MIT used the 6­on­5 advantage to set­up Smith for a goal.

One minute later, MIT scored another 6-on-5 goal when Klepser, rotated to a wing position, passed into the hole to Yvonne Kim '98. Without catching the pass, Kim tipped the ball to redirect it into the net past the Harvard goalie. MIT finally pulled even with 30 seconds left in the quarter when Bratakos scored on a nice individual effort.

Unfortunately, MIT broke down defensively several times in the fourth quarter against a much faster Harvard team. Harvard scored goals on breakaways to take an 11­7 lead. Klepser pulled MIT within three with a goal from the wing on another 6-on-5 advantage, but MIT could get no closer and lost by a final score of 11­8.

Overtime win over Dartmouth

MIT finally broke into the win column against Dartmouth on Sunday afternoon with a 12­10 overtime victory. In a wide-open first quarter, MIT scored five of the eight goals to take a 5­3 lead.

Dartmouth tallied first seconds into the game, but Bratakos responded with a 4 meter penalty shot goal after Klepser drew the penalty in the hole. Dartmouth went back ahead on a 6-on-5 goal, but Bratakos answered again with an unassisted score to tie the game 2­2. Dartmouth scored again before MIT went on a 3­0 run to stretch its lead to 5­3 by the end of the first quarter. Klepser scored first from the hole with a defender on her back. Adriane Chapman '98 and Kim then each scored goals.

Things were looking bleak for MIT heading into the final quarter, as Dartmouth got two goals to take a 10­8 lead with 4:02 left in regulation. With 1:38 remaining, Bratakos brought MIT within one with a 6­on­5 goal. Then with 38 seconds to play, Clara Yang '95 found Klepser in the hole for the tying goal. Bratakos then foiled the Dartmouth attack on its ensuing possession by stripping the ball from behind with 26 seconds to play to preserve the 10­10 tie.

The teams then headed to a six-minute overtime period. Bratakos, who had an outstanding defensive game with 7 steals, made another key defensive play when she stole the ball on a Dartmouth 6­on­5 early in the overtime.

What Bratakos didn't steal in the waning minutes of regulation and during the overtime period, Chian stopped cold. Chian, who played a spectacular overtime period, came up with two big saves before Klepser got what would prove to be the game-winner. With the ball in the hole and her defender hanging on her back, Klepser simply out-muscled the Dartmouth opponent and buried the ball in the back of the net with 3:39 remaining in the overtime.

A big key to the victory for MIT was their five 6­on­5 goals in ten opportunities. Klepser, who drew many of these major fouls, noted, "I felt that I could work well in the hole, turning the defender and getting either a shot or an ejection." In a goalie's nightmare, MIT outshot Dartmouth 32­30 for the game.

MIT finishes the year with a record of 7­4, with Bratakos (19 goals, 14 assists, 23 steals), Klepser (24 goals, 14 assists, 20 steals), and Smith (13 goals, 9 assists, 13 steals) leading the squad.