Laden with more firepower than a Western posse, the 1997 Harvard field hockey team might want to rename Cumnock Field the O.K. Corral.
"We're a dynamic team, a good transition team," Coach Sue Caples said. "There's tremendous potential on this team. We have all the positives."
Start with an offense that Caples predicts will surpass last year's total of 32 goals in 19 games.
"This year, we'll be able to pick up and score field goals," Caples said. "We have really great corner batteries and the potential to score on all corners. We hit the ball well and have good speed."
Complementing the explosive offense is the potent defensive nucleus of senior Beck Stringer, junior Sally Romano and sophomores Katie School-werth and Anya Cowan.
"We'll be able to be very attacking out of our own defense," Caples said. "Anya was outstanding last year in goal. Our defense is a very solid unit with very skilled players."
However, the defense needs to cut down the number of shots Cowan faces. Cowan, who played every minute of every game last year, made 185 saves en route to a 1.74 goals-against-average.
"Anya had to make too many saves," said co-captain Amy DiMarzio. "She sees too many shots."
In August, Cowan played for her home province of Ontario in the Canada Summer Games in Manitoba. Ontario lost to British Columbia, 1-0, in the finals.
Missing from the Crimson roster thus far in the preseason has been junior Judy Collins, who will play for the United States national team in the Junior World Cup in Seoul, South Korea. Collins, who set school single-season records for both goals (13) and points (30) last year, will return to Cambridge on Sept. 15.
When the Crimson opens the season against Rhode Island, it must continue last season's trend of scoring early while eliminating another habit-the inability to finish.
"Last year, we'd be clearly dominating a game, then give the other team the opportunity to get back into it," Stringer said. "We also have to win games by more than a one-goal margin. Many of those games should have been won by two or three goals."
Harvard will again post a youthful team this year, with only two starting seniors in Stringer and DiMarzio.
"We're relatively young, but mature," Stringer said. "We have experience, as well as a great group of freshmen."
"The challenge for us is to go out and play at our own level and dominate opponents," Caples said.