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No. 13 Hartwick puts hurt on w. water polo

After wrapping up a successful 5-3 road trip to California, which included a win over No. 15 Long Beach State University, the No. 19 women's water polo team hoped to carry the momentum generated in the Golden State into its remaining regular season games. But the team had a disappointing result Saturday, when No. 13 Hartwick College took an early lead and never looked back, winning convincingly 16-5. The Bears, who had already dropped a Feb. 24 game to the Hawks, fell to 14-8 overall with the loss, 1-2 against Northern Division opponents.

In the first six minutes of the game, Hartwick scored three times before Brown was able to get on the board. The first quarter ended with the Hawks leading 3-1.

In the second period, Hartwick pulled away by scoring back-to-back goals only 16 seconds apart, with 5:54 and 5:38 remaining. The Hawks struck for four more goals in the period, including two goals scored even quicker - just 28 seconds apart - with 1:56 and 1:28 left in the quarter. Despite two goals of its own, Bruno trailed 9-3 at halftime.

In the third period, Hartwick found the net four more times, expanding its lead to 13-4. The Hawks continued to attack in the final period, putting in three more scores and allowing the Bears just one goal, to make the final score 16-5.

"We definitely didn't play as a team," said Head Coach Jason Gall. "On defense, we weren't communicating well. ... There was a lack of intensity and hustle on defense, as well. Offensively, we were creating a lot of opportunities to score but weren't getting the ball to the open person at the right time."

Lauren Presant '10 led the Bears with two goals and also drew three ejections, and co-captain Elizabeth Balassone '07 played strongly, contributing a goal and drawing three ejections. Despite the 16 goals allowed, Stephanie Laing '10 had a busy day in the goal, recording eight saves in the loss.

The loss was a disappointing one for Brown, which had hoped to build momentum heading into the home stretch of the regular season and the postseason with another upset of a higher-ranked team. The Bears have two wins over Top 20 opponents this season, with those wins coming against No. 17 University of Michigan on March 18 and against Long Beach State on March 27.

Brown will finish the regular season with four games in five days, all on the road against Northern Division opponents. On Tuesday, the Bears will take on Connecticut College in New London, Conn., followed by a game at Harvard on Thursday. On Saturday, the team will travel to Utica, N.Y., to play back-to-back games against Utica College and Queens College. At the moment, Brown sits in third place in the conference.

The following weekend, on April 21 and 22, the Bears will compete in the Northern Division Championships, where they may have to go through Hartwick to win the title. Brown still has a few things to straighten out before turning its attention to the postseason, according to Gall.

"Scoring on our offensive opportunities is probably the first thing we need to work on," Gall said. "We need to remember that our best games and our best effort are when we are working as a team and playing good defense. Solid defense will give us the opportunity to go far in the playoffs."



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