After the Harvard field hockey team's convincing victory yesterday over Springfield, Coach Sue Caples smiled and said simply, "we needed this."
What she was referring to was the overwhelming 4-0 drubbing her team had just given Springfield (3-6-0) at Cumnock Field for its first win of the season.
From the very outset, Harvard (1-3-0) completely dominated the game. Led by co-captain Francie Walton, who scored all four of the Crimson's goals, Harvard's offense kept Springfield on its heels with its constant pressure.
"Francie was really on today," Caples said. "She took charge."
With crisp centering passes form senior forward Sarah Downing on the right side leading the Harvard attack, the Crimson controlled the day's offensive action and fired 23 shots to the Chiefs' nine. On the other side of the field, the Harvard defense blanked Springfield and with strong play from Walton, senior back Deirdre Long, junior sweeper Megan Colligan, and freshman back Daphne Clark, repelled the few Chief attacks.
In addition, sophomore goalie Jessica Milhollin made a number of fine saves to score her first shutout of the season for the Crimson.
"It was a great team effort for 70 minutes," Caples said.
Caples also said she was pleased with all the scoring opportunities the Crimson created, especially on Harvard's penalty corners.
The first half saw the first two Crimson scores come off those well-executed penalty corners. Both times, Downing served to co-captain Emily Buxton who stopped the ball for Walton. Walton smacked both past the Springfield netminder.
After the intermission, the Crimson wasted no time launching another assault on the Springfield goalie. Just two minutes into the half, its efforts gave Walton the hat trick, as the senior scored on another penalty stroke when she placed the ball beautifully into the upper left corner.
Walton's fourth and final goal came when she neatly followed-up a deflected corner with a second shot that eluded the Springfield goalie.
Although Caples said she was pleased with the outcome of the game, she said the team still needs to work on midfield connections and passing between the 25-yard lines. Walton said the team needs to convert a few more of its scoring opportunities.
Nevertheless, both the coach and the co-captain said they believe the team is ready for Ivy League competition. Harvard gets its first taste of conference play this Saturday when the team travels to Ithaca, N.Y., to take on Cornell.