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W. water polo dominates before running into hungry Hawks

The women's water polo team cruised to the title game in the Northern Division Championship but was disappointed coming up against No. 12 Hartwick College, losing 18-6. Despite the loss, the team's second-place finish was good enough to earn a berth in the Eastern Championships at Princeton next weekend.

On Saturday, the Bears easily won their first two games, outscoring their opponents 39-2. In the first game, they faced Utica College, which they had beaten 20-2 just a week earlier. The rematch yielded a similar result, as Bruno shut out the Pioneers in a 21-0 victory, the team's first shutout of the season.

Eleven players scored for Brown against Utica, with Lauren Presant '10 leading the way with four goals. Sarah Glick '10 added three, and Alexis Blaxberg '08 led the Bears' defensive attack with six steals.

In the second game on Saturday, Brown faced Queens College, which it had also defeated by a score of 13-3 a week earlier. On Saturday, the Bears came away with another convincing win over the Knights, with Presant scoring another four goals and Stephanie Laing '10 making eight saves en route to an 18-2 victory. Ally Wyatt '08 also made great contributions on the defensive end, leading the Bears with four steals.

On Sunday, Brown faced another familiar division opponent in Harvard, in the tournament semifinal game. The Bears were victorious in their first three matches against the Crimson this season, and Sunday's game was more of the same. Bruno's defense dominated in a 10-1 victory, holding the Crimson scoreless until 4:25 remaining in the third period. Presant, Wyatt, Elizabeth Balassone '07 and Paige Lansing '07 led the scoring attack with two goals apiece, with Glick and Claire Angyal '07 each adding one goal.

The Bears played for the championship Sunday afternoon against Hartwick, the team that accounted for Brown's only two division losses in the regular season. Despite the momentum from Brown's three blowout wins, the Hawks dominated from the outset and rolled to victory over the Bears, 18-6.

"Hartwick is, player for player, the best team on the East Coast," said Head Coach Jason Gall. "They play very well as a team and make plays happen, and they take advantage of any mistake the opponent makes."

Hartwick got on the scoreboard first with 6:15 remaining in the first quarter, but just 32 seconds later, Brown took advantage of a 6-on-5 opportunity to set up Presant for the game-tying goal. But the Hawks began to pull away, adding four goals in the remainder of the period to take a 5-1 lead.

In the first 1:11 of the second quarter, Glick and Presant both found the net to cut the deficit to 5-3, and the Bears looked to be in position to make a comeback. But Bruno failed to score for the rest of the period, while allowing three goals to Hartwick, giving the Hawks an 8-3 lead at halftime.

Brown threatened to make another run in the third quarter when Emily Schwartz '08 scored just 25 seconds in, followed by a goal from Caitlin Fahey '07 with 3:57 remaining in the period. Hartwick then launched an overwhelming offensive attack, outscoring the Bears 4-1 in the remainder of the third to open up a 12-6 lead.

In the fourth quarter, the Hawks secured the victory and the Northern Division championship by outscoring the Bears 6-0, making the final score 18-6.

"We played with an aggressive defense and offense," Presant said, "but since Hartwick is a really good team that also plays with an aggressive defense, when we made mistakes on offense, they countered off of the mistake and scored."

On April 28 and 29, Brown will be at Princeton to compete in the Eastern Championship single-elimination tournament, where it will be the No. 4 seed. In the opening round, it will face the University of Indiana, a team they beat earlier this season. In the second round, the winner of that game will likely face Hartwick, the tournament's No. 1 seed.

"We definitely respect Hartwick as a team," Balassone said, "and we'll work as hard as we can to put ourselves in position to play a great game with them next Saturday."

Gall said that despite the loss, the team's confidence level is still high heading into Easterns. "We're motivated and hungry to win," he said.



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