College water polo: Harvard earns first win in NCAA championship play over Bucknell
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — No. 10 Harvard (26-6) defeated No. 12 Bucknell (23-5) 13-12 in sudden-death overtime Saturday afternoon to advance to the next round of the NCAA Championship. The Crimson earned its first NCAA Championship win in program history against the Bison.
Harvard will now advance to the next round of play-in games as it has a matchup with No. 8 UC Davis on Thursday at the Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley, California. The winner will secure a spot in the NCAA Final Four.
Bucknell got on the scoreboard first against the Crimson, scoring just before the midway point of the first quarter to take a 1-0 lead.
Freshman Austin Sechrest evened the contest up with a penalty shot goal late in the quarter, but Bucknell struck again to make it 2-1 after one quarter of play.
The Bison increased its lead to 4-1 throughout the second quarter as the Crimson offense struggled to find its rhythm.
Senior Noah Harrison got the Crimson back on track with 2:45 to play in the half, taking advantage of another Bucknell foul with a penalty-shot goal. Senior Dan Stevens then rattled off consecutive scores to tie the contest at 4-4 heading into the half.
The Crimson erupted out of the break, outscoring the Bison by three (5-2) in the third quarter. Senior Viktor Wrobel scored the first goal of the half for Harvard, followed by another from Stevens for his third tally of the game. Freshman Charlie Owens and sophomores Nick Bunn and Grayson Judge rounded out the scoring for the Crimson in the period.
Harvard extended its advantage to 10-6 in the early goings of the fourth quarter, using a long strike from senior Joey Colton to take the four-goal lead.
Bucknell, however, slowly began to chip away and cut the deficit to one (10-9) with just over three minutes to play. The Bison tied the game up (10-10) with 19 seconds remaining on a second-chance goal after a save from sophomore goaltender Anthony Ridgley.
In the first overtime, the Bison capitalized on a Harvard penalty, finishing on the penalty shot to make it 11-10.
Harvard responded as Colton fired one into the back of the net to knot it back up at 11-11. Bucknell managed to add another goal to take a slight 12-11 advantage heading into the second overtime period.
In the second overtime, the game remained scoreless for the opening two minutes of the period and Harvard called a timeout with possession at the 1:04 mark of the overtime. The Crimson executed out of the timeout, and Sechrest finished off a pass from Colton to draw even at 12-12 and force a sudden-death overtime.
Harvard's defense held strong in sudden death and after a stop with 1:20 remaining, Ridgley found Tafur streaking down the pool and Tafur fought through a Bison defender and beat the keeper for the game-winning goal.
Stevens led the Crimson offense with a hat trick, while Sechrest and Colton notched a pair of goals, each. Both Stevens and Colton collected two assists as well.
The Harvard defense amassed 10 steals in the game, led by two each from Colton and Harrison. Ridgley was superb in net, totaling 11 saves to go along with three steals and an assist.