Stickwomen Successful Despite 3-8-4 Season Mark

You can count the number of wins the Harvard field hockey team chalked up this year on one hand--without using your thumb or even your pinkie.

It takes two full hands to count the number of goals the stickwomen scored.

And only an octopus or a statistics major--or maybe both in a joint research effort--could calculate the number of saves Harvard netminder Denise Katsias recorded.

Which shows just what kind of team the Crimson had:

A defensive team. That didn't score much. And didn't win much.

But Harvard was one of the most impressive 3-8-4 squads (with only 10 goals all season) around.

After all, five of its losses came to nationally ranked teams and one of its ties was with 6th-ranked Boston College.

The Crimson even beat Springfield, then ranked 12th, 1-0; all this with a starting lineup that included five sophomores and a freshman goalie.

With a 1-1 deadlock at Yale November 9, Harvard wound up with a 2-2-2 Ivy record, good enough for second place in the league.

This was a marked improvement over last year's 1-5 ledger that pushed the Crimson into the Ivy cellar for the first time in its history.

And it's probably a good bet that this young Crimson squad--although it will lose senior starters Linda Runyon, Bambi Taylor, Anne Kelly and Alicia Clifton--will be in the thick of the Ivy race next year.

"We have high expectations for next season," sophomore midfielder Leelee Groome says.

Katsias (three-time Ivy League Honorable Mention Player of the Week) recorded an astounding 144 saves this year and will be back to anchor a defense that has been stellar.

Like her teammates, the freshman goalkeeper turned in some great performances against top-ranked teams.

Katsias allowed only one late goal--on a penalty stroke--to seventh-ranked New Hampshire.

The University of Connecticut, now the nation's number one team, scored two early goals on Katsias but was then shut down--despite reeling off 27 shots.

Ninth-ranked Boston University was held for 63 minutes before it put one by Katsias.

But in the six games this year in which Katsias allowed only one goal, the Crimson's record was 0-3-3--which tells you something about the Cantab offense.

"We need someone who is a hog and can go in there and score," Clifton says.

Harvard may need look no farther for that hog than its front line of Kate Felsen, Cindi Ersek and Gia Barresi, a trio that tallied six times this year.

Barresi, however, may find herself leading the defense from the sweeper position next year, something she did convincingly against Yale when Kelly was sidelined with a five-minute penalty.

"We know Gia can play anywhere," says Harvard Assistant Coach Sue Caples.

Barresi--next year's captain along with defender Jenny Pyle--is more than ready for the challenge. And, like her teammates, she can hardly wait for the next campaign.

"The season's just ending and I can't wait until next year," Barresi says.

The odds are good that the Crimson's next campaign will be better than its last. And if the offense shapes up Harvard may even snag its first Ivy crown ever.

So stick around.

THE NOTEBOOK AWARDS: MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Co-Captain Kelly for her leadership and fine defense. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Katsias, for obvious reasons, although freshman midfielder Sharon Kosakowski played well in the second half of the season. BEST DRESSED: To Groome for sporting a blood-red pair of $80 Air-Jordan sneakers in the Crimson's game against Brown.