PROVIDENCE, R.I.--The Ivy League Tournament is not the best place in the world to come with a flat performance. But that's what the Harvard women's hockey team did Saturday afternoon here at Meehan Arena, dropping a 4-2 decision to host Brown and with it a chance to take on Cornell for the championship.
"They outskated us, they beat us to the puck--we didn't deserve to win it," Joe Bertagna, coach of the squad, said after the game. In yesterday's consolation, before Cindy Warren's four goals helped the Big Red crush Brown for its fourth consecutive title, the Crimson turned in a stronger effort that wasn't strong enough as Dartmouth hung on for a 3-2 victory to capture third place on the weekend.
It was the first tournament appearance ever for Harvard, and Bertagna's skaters seemed hesitant and a little unsure.
"The offense was always almost there and yet never quite--our plays were just not clicking," left-winger Sarah Fischer said.
Brown jumped out to an early lead 8:02 into the game when, only eight seconds after Crimson defenseman Anna Jones had been whistled for hooking, Pam Boone backhanded in a deflected shot.
After the "Pandas" upped the margin to 2-0, the "Green Line" of Fischer, Meg Streeter and Tania Huber--who was named yesterday a second team Ivy League all-star--combined to put Harvard finally on the board. A Huber centering pass bounced off Fischer's skate, but Streeter knocked in the loose puck.
Stephanie Sanders' second tally of the game broke Harvard's momentum. Scoring leader Amy Crasts made it 4-1.
The Crimson closed the gap to two when Huber drew a face-off to Fischer, who wasted no time in stuffing the puck past Brown goaltender Katherine Hazard's stickside. But that was it, with a questionable hooking call to Huber at 18:33 killing all hopes of a comeback.
"We were jittery," said Sue Yunich.
"We choked," said Fischer.
Yesterday was a different story, though the results remained the same. Down by three goals--an ice-length rush by Betsy Field, a backhand stuffer by Nancy Milholland, and a high pop that Nelia Worsely apparently lost in the sun--the Crimson bounced back to play some of its better hockey of the season. Huber finished a two-on-one with Streeter by sweeping a rebound between the pads of Big Green netminder Janice Ellis 11:42 into a Harvard-dominated second period.
A beautiful breakout combination by Julie Starr and Streeter sent Huber in alone with 4:37 left to make it 3-2, but once again a penalty "took away our last gasp," Bertagna said.
Bertagna faulted a lack of tournament toughness for many of the Crimson's problems. Fischer had a similar assessment: "It's all up here," she said, pointing to her head, "and we don't quite have the attitude."