The Harvard women's lacrosse team yesterday suffered its worst defeat in six years, succumbing to a quicker and more talented Loyola squad, 15-6, in the season opener for both squads.
Before 120 fans on Loyola's Curley Field in Baltimore, Md., the hosts scored six unanswered goals in the final 15 minutes to break open a 9-6 game.
Not since the Crimson dropped a 15-9 contest to Penn State three years ago had an opponent scored as many as Loyola did yesterday And the Harvard laxwomen hadn't lost by as many since a 142 thrashing at the hands of Ursinus in 1979.
That's not exactly the way the nation's seventh-ranked Crimson squad had planned on opening its much-awaited season.
But with a makeshift lineup--four senior starters remained in Cambridge yesterday because of academic deadlines--and without the offensive firepower of graduated All-American Maggie Hart-who last year accounted for is percent of the Crimson's scoring-Harvard could muster little challenge for the nation's eighth-ranked Loyola team.
The hosts wasted no time in making shambles of the preseason national rankings, scoring the games first goal just 15 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Four and a half minutes later it was already 3-0 in favor of the hosts, and it looked like a nine-goal margin of defeat would be quite an accomplishment for the visitors.
Harvard--which like Loyola, lost in the NCAA quarterfinals a year ago--finally woke up five minutes into the game, when Lucy Chubb beat Loyola netminder Kim Halanych for the Crimson's first goal of the year.
That score cut the Loyola lead to 3 1 Eighteen minutes later, sophomore Kelly McBride's bullet kept the Crimson within two, 6-4.
Anne Allen's back-breaking tally with just 1:02 left in the first half, though, propelled the hosts to a 7 4 halftime lead from which the visitors would never recover.
The two squads traded two goals apiece in the first 10 minutes of the second half--Chubb and McBride each added their second goal of the game for Harvard to cut the score to 9 6.
But that only yet the stage for the Loyola cakewalk and one of the worst defeats in Harvard history.
THE NOTEBOOK: If it's any consolation, the Harvard on to win 12 straight games a year ago after losing its season opener... Loyola's Rita Cileti led all scorers with five goals... Andrea Holthaus had four for Loyola... Besides Chubb and McBride, junior Blair Wardenburg and sophomore Stephanie Formica scored for Harvard... Only five Harvard players who started a year ago started yesterday's game... Chubb's two goal tied her output for all of last year Ironically, Chubb--a varsity player a year ago and a jayvee player this year--made the trip because of the absence of the four Harvard seniors... Harvard returns to action Saturday against the University of Pennsylvania...If Harvard is to garner one of the four NCAA postseason bids this year, it'll now have to pull several upsets on its southern trip next week, when it'll face top ranked Temple and second-ranked Maryland.