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MIT Waterpolo Team Advances To Playoffs

By Wesley S. Chao

Assistant Coach

The women’s water polo team beat Whittier College in their first ever meeting on April 2.

For a full half, the two squads battled back and forth with Whittier leading by no more than one goal. Then, with 16 seconds to play in the half, Alexandra Techet G drew a four meter penalty shot, which she subsequently scored, giving MIT their first lead of the game.

The Engineers never looked back. MIT exploded in the third quarter for five goals while allowing none. They were led by freshman star Andrea Harsanyi ’02, who scored three of her four goals in the third quarter despite suffering from an injured thumb. A three goal effort from Whittier, which is ranked in the top 10 of Division III schools nationally, was not enough to pull the team back into contention.

The win comes despite adversity at MIT. The program has gone through three head coaches in as many years before settling on Jeff Ma ’94, who not only coaches the men's team, but took an infant program at Wellesley to Nationals in only three years. In addition, this year’s team lost four starters to graduation, including their top two scorers and goalie.

In an extensive recruiting effort from co-captain Lauren Erb ’02, ten members of the women’s swimming team elected to play water polo this year, including school record holders Deirdre Dunn ’99 and Jen Navarro ’00. In fact, Ma says this year’s team is, “the fastest I’ve ever coached.”

That speed, together with four different goalies combining for a 49 per cent save percentage, has worked perfectly in MIT’s traditional defend-and-counter game, propelling them to an 8-2 record. They have only lost to crosstown powerhouse Harvard University.

The team heads to Wesleyan University on Patriot’s Day Weekend for the Northern Division Playoffs. In order to go to Eastern Championships, the team must defeat Mount Holyoke College, which they did on April 7 by a score of 13-0, and then beat Brown University. Coach Ma calls it, “Very exciting; something I’ve never done as a coach, either with the men or women.”