LEWISBURG, Pa. – The sixth-seeded Bucknell women’s water polo team went toe-to-toe with seventh-seeded Harvard for 32 minutes on Saturday afternoon, but a last-second goal by senior Julianne Valdes lifted the Bison to a 12-11 win over the Crimson in the CWPA Championships and advanced them to Sunday’s fifth-place match. Bucknell, which will play Brown in the 10:30 a.m. contest, improved to 13-13 overall with the win, while Harvard, which will face Connecticut College in the seventh-place game, dropped to 14-20 with the loss.
Sophomore Eleanor Marrs led the Bison with four goals in the contest, matching her season high, while Valdes chipped in three goals, including the game-winner, and an assist. Senior Mackenzie Ferry had a pair of goals and assists, while freshman Tegan Stanbach, junior Sayeh Bozorghadad and sophomore Hannah Sunday all found the back of the net as well.
After Ferry scored the first goal of the contest to give Bucknell a 1-0 lead, Harvard responded with two of its own to begin a back-and-forth battle that would last for the duration of the game. While the Crimson took a 3-2 lead into the second stanza, the Bison outscored them 4-2 in that quarter, gaining a 6-5 lead at the half when a shot by Valdes was tipped into the net by a Harvard player.
The teams exchanged goals throughout the third, and were tied 8-8 with 2:20 to play, but Marrs tallied her fourth of the game with just one second remaining in the quarter to give the Bison a 9-8 lead heading into the final stanza.
Bucknell took its first two-goal lead of the game with back-to-back tallies by Valdes and Sunday, but Harvard sliced the lead to one just 14 seconds later and tied the game at 11-11 on a power play goal with 1:06 remaining. An unsuccessful possession for each squad gave the Bison the ball with just over 20 seconds on the clock, and Valdes made the play of the game, scoring with three seconds left to give Bucknell the 12-11 win.
Senior Rena Heim was played an impressive 32 minutes in the cage for the Bison, making 10 saves, including one at the last second to preserve the win.
The victory, Bucknell’s third-straight over Harvard, earned the Bison a spot in the fifth-place match on Sunday, where they will take on fifth-seeded Brown. The two teams have split their last four meetings, with the Bears’ taking a 12-9 win in the most recent showdown. Sunday’s contest will begin at 10:30 a.m., and will be video streamed by the CWPA.
HARVARD 3 2 3 3 -11
BUCKNELL 2 4 3 3 -12
Goals: Marrs (4), Valdes (3), Ferry (2), Stanbach, Bozorghadad, Sunday.
Assists: Ferry (2), Ovalle, Valdes, Bozorghadad.
Field Blocks: Ferry (2), Ovalle, Valdes, Marrs.
Ejections Drawn: Sunday (4), Valdes, McCarthy.
Saves: Heim (10 svs., 11 ga., 32:00 min.).
Steals: Valdes (3), Ferry (2), Marrs (2), Ovalle, Sunday.
Sprints: Deana (2-2), Marrs (1-2).
Bucknell Record: 13-13.