September 21, 2007

Harvard's Second Half Surge Stuns MIT, 11-8

Sept. 21, 2007

Courtesy Harvard University Sports Information

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A dramatic second half comeback by Harvard led the Crimson to an 11-8 victory over visiting MIT on Thursday night in front of 300 fans at Blodgett Pool. The Engineers, who led by as many as five goals in the first half, took an 8-5 advantage into the fourth quarter, but a shocking offensive outburst from the hosts powered them to the win.

The inner-city match-up pitted two teams ranked side-by-side in the latest (Sept. 19) Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Top 10 Poll. Harvard (6-1; 2-1 CWPA) is currently ranked No. 9, while MIT (5-4; 1-2 CWPA) holds the No. 10 spot. The Engineers are also ranked No. 5 nationally in Division III.

The Crimson's Spencer Livingston opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the game, but MIT subdued the home crowd and gained momentum throughout the next 22 minutes of play. Sophomore Devin Lewis tallied consecutive no-look strikes off of Spencer Williams assists to put the Cardinal and Gray in front, 2-1, before Mike Smith-Bronstein and Palmer Rosemond traded give-and-gos to push the lead to 4-1 with five minutes remaining in the opening stanza. Smith-Bronstein finished the match with three assists.

A Harvard timeout did little to stem the flood, as freshman leading-scorer John Preis and Lewis each found the back of the net to stretch Tech's advantage to 6-2 after one quarter. The Engineers were 3-for-3 on 6-on-5 chances in the opening period, while the Crimson's six turnovers in each of the first two quarters and five more in the third seemed like too much to overcome. Senior Morgan Laidlaw added another for Tech before Lewis' fourth goal of the game - and 17th on the season - put MIT in front, 8-4, late in the third, furthering Harvard's hole.

However, the hosts grabbed a crucial goal with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter, as freshman Bret Voith cut the lead to 8-5 heading into the final period. The strike seemed to ignite the Coral Gables, Fla., native, as he went on to spearhead a three-steal defensive effort to add to his four assists.

Egen Atkinson finished a feed from Michael Byrd to make the score 8-7 before David Tune tied the match 44 seconds later. Atkinson then secured the eventual game-winner with 3:57 on the clock, following up his own rebound after MIT goalkeeper Nick Souza had made the initial stop.

Smith-Bronstein nearly equalized for the Engineers with 2:28 remaining, but his blast from the right corner deflected off the crossbar.

Chris Ludwick and Tune added insurance goals for the Crimson to provide the final 11-8 score line.

Livingston scored Harvard's first four goals of the game and added two helpers. Jay Connolly had nine saves in net for the Crimson, while Souza made five stops for MIT.

The Engineers will return to action on Sunday afternoon, when they will travel to New London, Conn., to take on both Connecticut College (11:30 a.m.) and Penn State-Behrend (1:00 p.m.). Harvard won't play again until next weekend at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships, hosted by Brown University.