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Water Polo Places Sixth at NCAA Nationals at Santa Cruz, CA

By Jeffrey Colton

STAFF REPORTER

The past two weekends have been full of tough competition for the women’s water polo team, but its hard work paid off with a recent sixth place finish at NCAA Division III nationals last weekend. The Engineers pulled off a 2-3 record against at nationals, quickly rebounding from their 0-4 performance the weekend before at the Easterns Tournament.

The team traveled to Santa Cruz, California, this past weekend for MIT’s first appearance at nationals, defeating Macalester College and Washington and Jefferson, but falling to Santa Clara, Claremont, and Occidental (the eventual champions).

Andrea Harsanyi ’02 and Jennifer Eppig ’03 were named as honorable mentions to the all-tournament team.

Beavers can’t handle Princeton

Two weekends ago, the team traveled down to Princeton University for the Easterns Tournament, playing a series of four games against the top eight teams in the east coast.

The tournament was a great opportunity for the Beavers to try to gain some respect from other teams as well as a chance to prepare for nationals.

Going into the tournament seeded eighth, the Beavers would have to take on top seed Princeton for their first match. Princeton, seeded tenth in Division I, obtained the top seed at Easterns with a 16-13 record. MIT got off to a bad start and ended the first quarter with a 7 goal deficit (7-0). However, the Beavers would not give up, as they played the Tigers to a 6-3 game the last three quarters.

Scoring one goal per quarter, Harsanyi broke the ice with a goal from hole set. This helped MIT’s confidence on both ends of the pool as their new defensive strategy began to hold Princeton to fewer goals. Stevie Praster ’02 threw in another goal in the fourth quarter, giving the Beaver’s their third goal for a 13-3 loss.

Their next game would be against Salem-Teikyo from Pennsylvania, who entered the tournament with as the four-seed from the South. The game was close all the way through the third quarter, leaving the last quarter to decide the game. Unfortunately, Salem-Teikyo led off with a frenzy of goals which put the game out of reach for a down Engineers team. Harsanyi scored all five goals in the Engineer’s 12-5 loss.

Day two brings tough losses

The following day, the Engineers found themselves playing another Pennsylvanian team, Bucknell. A team with a reputable aquatics program, MIT knew it had to play well to win this game.

However, a few mistakes led to quick goals for Bucknell. MIT’s inexperience came into play as they kept making similar mistakes allowing their opponent to take advantage for easy goals.

Yihvan Vuong ’02 helped out with great half-court defense shutting down one of Bucknell’s top players. But they found out one player cannot stop a team as Bucknell rolled by the Engineers 11-5.

“We should have beat them,” Harsanyi said. “We were better than them, but we kept making the same mistakes giving them counter goals.”

The last game of the Easterns Tournament was a competitive one against Iona College. Iona, another Division I team from New York, was in the same boat as MIT: looking for their first win in the tournament. This game would conclude as the closest game of the tournament for the Engineers as well as their highest scoring. Eppig tossed in three goals and Harsanyi powered in four, giving MIT a total of seven goals for the match.

However, miscommunication on defense helped Iona score ten goals throughout the game giving them a three-goal margin over the Beavers. Related stories: