The Harvard women's lacrosse team moved one step closer yesterday to a record sixth straight Ivy League title.
Harvard, one of the most dominant Ivy teams in any sport in history, stopped a visiting Brown squad, 19-9, before a handful of spectators on Soldiers Field.
The victory upped the Crimson's Ivy record to 3-0 and its overall mark to 6-2.
Victories over Cornell, Yale and Dartmouth later this season would assure Harvard--winners of 30 of its last 32 league games--of the crown and would put it in the running for a possible berth in the NCAA tournament.
Harvard, which last lost an Ivy game early in 1983, has now won a league-record 19 straight Ancient Eight games.
But under overcast skies yesterday, Harvard found itself in a surprisingly close contest at halftime. The laxwomen opened the game with a quick goal in the first minute of play only for Brown to score 43 seconds later. Then Harvard scored twice more, but again the Bruins found the net just 20 seconds later. The see-saw battle saw the half end with Harvard holding a precarious 6-5 lead.
Co-Captain Blair Wardenburg said, "I was a bit worried in the first half."
Coach Carole Kleinfelder said about her team, "In the first half we were getting the shots (18), but we were off-balance, not looking, and shooting at the goalie. At halftime, I just told them to go for the open net."
"I think we knew we were a better team, we were determined to put it to them in the second half," Co-Captain Genie Simmons said.
And that's exactly what the hosts did.
Just 11 seconds into the second half Wardenburg assisted Leelee Groome for a goal. Thirty-five seconds later Groome assisted Kelly McBride, and Harvard was on its way.
The nation's 10th-ranked team never looked back as McBride scored four more of Harvard's 13 second half goals.
McBride, the team's leading scorer, led the Harvard attack yesterday, pumping in a career-high seven goals.
McBride's total yesterday was half as many goals as she scored in Ivy games last year, when she emerged as the squad's top offensive threat.
Also up front, sophomore Kate Felsen added four goals, senior Blair Wardenburg pumped in three, sophomore LeeLee Groome punched in two, and Cindi Ersek, Bambi Taylor and Alyce Wright each added one. Taylor's goal was her first of the year.
The offense in the second half was relentless as Wardenburg, McBride, and Felsen managed to keep Brown on defense throughout the afternoon.
And back on defense, Harvard--in action for the first time since its 8-7 upset on Sunday of the nation's then-third-ranked Maryland squad--got another strong performance from freshman goalie Kelly Dermody.
Kleinfelder was experimenting with a new style of defense, which she said, "was all right, but didn't execute as well as we hoped in the first half.
THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson has won 23 of its last 25 home games...Crimson Coach Carole Kleinfelder now has an eight-year mark of 101-41-2...Her 102nd and 103rd coaching victories could come as soon as Sunday, when the Crimson hosts Cornell and Boston College in a rare doubleheader. The Cornell game begins at noon on Soldiers Field, followed by the B.C. contest at 4 p.m...Kleinfelder's eight-year Ivy record is 35-3-1...Harvard's 19-game Ivy streak began with a victory over Brown in 1983...McBride's seven goals were two shy of the Ivy record set by Lis Roming of Penn in 1981. Her seven goals were also two shy of the Harvard records shared by Francesca DenHartog, Lili Pew and Sarah Mleczko.