NEW HAVEN, Conn.--It all boils down to goals.
The Harvard field hockey team needs points, and it needs them bad. After yesterday's 1-0 overtime loss at Yale, the Crimson's (2-6, 0-2 Ivy) stands at three games. And during those three games all of Harvard's opponents did score, which can only mean one thing:
"We have to put ourselves in an position to win," Harvard coach Sue Caples said. "Yes, we're having shots, yes, we're getting opportunities--it's very exasperating."
Exasperating would be a good way to describe yesterday's game. After the two teams battled neck-in-neck for 70 minutes without any scoring, Eli Betsy Hagmann broke loose of her coverage on the left side and got to a long pass halfway through the first overtime. She then found teammate Keltie Ferris open in front of the goal, who evaded Harvard goaltender Jessica Milhollin and easily placed the ball in the cage.
This year's new overtime rules helped give the No. 17 Bulldogs the opportunity for the score. In order to reduce the number of ties, only seven players play in the extra period, as opposed to 11 during regular time. The offsides rule also is thrown out the window.
Less people per square foot means more of a chance that a ball will find its way past everyone and roll down the field, which was exactly how Yale's goal was set up.
In any event, it was a sudden finish to what had been a exhausting game. Under the hot Indian Summer sun, the two teams had battled back-and-forth for the whole game.
Both Harvard and Yale went on their respective counterattacks quickly and efficiently, sending the ball from end to end in a matter of seconds.
"The midfield play was more or less eliminated," junior center back Mary Eileen Duffy said.
The difficulty of that for Harvard is that its midfield is its strength, with senior Maureen O'Brien, freshman Tara La Sovage, and most importantly, co-captain Carrie Shumway.
Another major factor in the game for Harvard was the inability of its corner batteries to produce; Junior sweeper Daphne Clark has scored four goals on corners this year, all of which have come in Harvard's two victories.
But Clark and company didn't tally any yesterday, though they had numerous chances to. Many were blown dead by the referees, who seemed to be especially picky about ensuring that the ball would come to a complete stop before it was hit on goal.
"That hurt us," Duffy said. "Our corners are usually our strength--because the officials were so stringent it hurt us."
However, good teams overcome such difficulties, and the Crimson believes that it can be a good team--can be, not is.
"They're small little things that add up," Caples said. "Little things are haunting us...we just need to pick it up another level."
One of these things was the Crimson's slow start, which has been annoying the squad most of the year. Over the first 15 minutes, Yale controlled the ball and the flow, but to its credit Harvard did not cave in.
"We were definitely back on our heels a little bit," O'Brien said. "It's very important to come out strong and score. [Even so,] it was good that we were able to pick it up."
Bits and Pieces
Sophomore backs Eileen Horwath and Beck Stringer traveled with the team but sat out the contest. Horwath still has back problems, which have haunted her for the entire season, while Stringer recently contracted mononucleosis, just after recovering from a broken wrist.
On the other hand, senior Melanie Allen was a literal no-show at Yale. The reserve forward, as far as anyone can tell, has gone AWOL. At this point, it would be very surprising to see her in a Harvard uniform again.
If the 0-2 Ivy record wasn't bad enough, Harvard's next two league opponents are powers Penn and Princeton.... The Tigers, for a point of reference, beat Cornell 6-2, a team that beat Harvard 2-0 on Saturday. First Half No scoring. Second Half No scoring. First Overtime Yale--Ferns (Hagmann) 7:05. Saves: Har--Milhollin 16; Yale--???.
Yale--Ferns (Hagmann) 7:05.
Saves: Har--Milhollin 16; Yale--???.