Field Hockey Takes Another Step Towards Ivy Title
Record: 11-8, 5-1 Ivy
Ivy Finish: Second
Coach: Sue Caples
Key Players: Captains Daphne Clark and Mary Eileen Duffy; Sophomore Judy Collins; Freshman Katie Schoolwerth
In 1996, the Harvard field hockey team went from being a few years away from the top to just one week.
Invigorated by a strong freshman class, the Crimson flew up to second place in the Ivy League, improving greatly from 1995's disappointing 1-5 Ivy finish.
And if it had not been for that one week in late October--when Harvard was upset by Providence and Boston College before falling to Princeton, 5-1, to give the Tigers the Ivy title--the Crimson could have been at the top.
Princeton went on to the NCAA Finals, falling to North Carolina in the championship. Harvard, meanwhile, ended up in the ECAC Tournament, beating Cornell but losing to Maine in overtime in the final.
All in all, it was a good season for Harvard. The Crimson held a national ranking (No. 16) for the first time since 1991 and had two underclassmen (sophomore Judy Collins and freshman Katie Schoolwerth) on the First Team All-Ivy squad.
In fact, one could even argue that, had the Princeton game been in Cambridge instead of New Jersey, Harvard would have had a very good shot at winning. In Princeton's only Ivy game on grass, Yale took the favorites into overtime before losing, 3-2. The Tigers won their five astroturf Ivy games by a combined score of 30-2.
Harvard, for its part, always seemed much more comfortable on grass. On the natural fields, Harvard was 9-4, going 4-0 in Ivy games, giving two top-10 teams (UConn and North-eastern) nailbiting scares. Moreover the Harvard beat LaSalle, 3-0, on its grass field after having only packed astroturf shoes because LaSalle did not fill out all the paperwork to rent a turf field.
True, the Crimson did play two of its best games on astroturf, beating William & Mary and almost knocking off Duke early in the season. And with the speedy forward line of Collins, sophomore Penny Fairbairn and freshman Dominique Kalil, Harvard seems like it should have been a good turf team. But Harvard's only blowout losses of the year were at Boston University (7-1) and Princeton, both of which came on turf.
Next year, Princeton comes to Cumnock. Will things be different?
For that to happen, Harvard will have to keep up its intestinal fortitude. Three of the Crimson's first six wins on the season came in overtime, two of which were Ivy games; Harvard was 8-5 in one-goal games and 4-2 in overtime.
It would be unfair to call the overtime victories lucky. In the extra minute time, four players on each side are removed to make sure that a goal is scored, and that just leaves more room for Harvard's forwards to roam. Still, the Crimson never really had any bad luck, and that can not be counted on in the future.
Harvard will lose the brunt of its defense. Co-captains Daphne Clark and Mary Eileen Duffy will graduate along with Whitney Smith, leaving three back spots open.
Expect Schoolwerth to take over Clark's spot as the main hitter on the corner battery--last year, Schoolwerth could hit the ball hard but would lift it up a little too much--and sophomore Stacey DiCiccio will probably step into one of the empty back spots.
Junior Eileen Horwath might also take a back spot if she doesn't mind the yo-yo positioning she has had so far at Harvard--for her first two seasons she was a back but moved up to forward in 1996.
One position that is set is in goal. Freshman Anya Cowan preformed magnificently with a 1.74 goals-against average and a berth on the Second Team All-Ivy squad.