PROVIDENCE, RI -- Devan Kennifer (Sr., Monterey, Calif./Santa Catalina) scored six times as Harvard University stopped Mercyhurst University 14-4 in the final opening round game of the 2012 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern Championship at Brown University's Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center.
With the victory, the Crimson (15-10, 6-2 CWPA Southern Division) advances to a 7:40 p.m. showdown with No. 13-ranked and Southern Division champion Princeton University, while Mercyhurst falls into a consolation bracket contest against crosstown rival Gannon University at 11:20 a.m. on Saturday, April 28.
The victory marks the third of the season for Harvard over Mercyhurst (11-18, 0-8 CWPA Southern Division) following 10-4 and 12-3 victories in the regular season and division tournament seasons, respectively.
A quick start and smothering defense were too much for the Lakers to overcome as Harvard ripped off a 6-2 in the first period in the first period and tacked on a 4-0 run in the second quarter to carry a 10-2 lead into halftime.
Kennifer started the scoring for Harvard as she floated a ball into the cage with 6:18 remaining in the opening frame. Aisha Price (Jr., Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) cushioned the margin to 2-0 with a tally at the 4:40 mark, but Mercyhurst's Allie Grimes (So., LaGrange, Ill./Lyons Township) connected on a man-up shot four seconds later to slice the Crimson margin in half.
Facing the possibility of a Lakers' run igniting, Kennifer doused the flames of a rally by completing a first period hat-trick as she ripped in shots at 3:43 and 1:57 around a tally by Victoria Frager (Fr., La Jolla, Calif./La Jolla) at 2:44 to make it a 5-1 game. Monica Zdrojewski (Sr., Laguna Hills, Calif./Dana Hills) added to the scoring chasm 19 seconds after Kennifer's third tally of the game by batting in a ball with 1:39 on the clock to make it 6-1.
Kimberly Goodhart (Sr., Reading, Pa./Reading) chipped a goal off the lead prior to the end of the opening period as she converted on an advantage chance with 33 seconds remaining in the quarter to pull the Lakers within 6-2.
However, Goodhart's goal turned bad as Zdrojewski (7:51) and Kennifer (7:04) netted natural goals, while A. Price (3:35) and Kennifer (1:47) contributed man-up strikes to comprise a 4-0 run by the Crimson in the second quarter for a 10-2 lead at intermission.
The gap was too much with too little time for the Lakers to overcome as Harvard kept pace with Mercyhurst in the third period and tacked on back-to-back markers by Shayna Price (So., Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) and Zdrojewski in the closing moments of the fourth period at 6:58 and 3:01, respectivley, for the ten-goal margin of victory.
A key to the game was Harvard's ability to keep Mercyhurst at bay for long periods while peppering the Lakers' cage with shots. Overall, the Crimson outshot the Lakers putting 25 scoring tries on the cage to Mercyhurst's 12.
Lisett Calderon (Jr., Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) and Hope Rozelle (Sr., San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) led the way for Mercyhurst with a pair of scores.
For Harvard, the duo of Ariel Dukes (Fr., Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) and Jasmine Griffin (Fr., Centennial, Colo./Araphahoe) combined for eight saves over the duration of the contest.
Harvard Goals: Devan Kennifer (6); Monica
Zdrojewski (3); Aisha Price (2); Victoria Frager; Elise Molnar;
Mercyhurst Goals: Lisett Calderon (2); Allie
Grimes; Kimberly Goodhart
Saves: Harvard - Ariel Dukes (4, 16 minutes), Jasmine Griffin (4, 16 minutes) ; Mercyhurst - Hope Rozelle (11)
Exclusions: Harvard - 6 ; Mercyhurst - 6
Advantage Opportunities: Harvard - 2-for-6 ; Mercyhurst - 3-for-6
Sprints: Harvard - 4-for-4 ; Mercyhurst - 0-for-4
Officials: Alex Stankevitch, Perry Korbakis
Harvard University's Aisha
Price closes on defense