When No. 20 Dartmouth beat the Harvard field hockey team 2-1 on Oct. 30, it ended the Crimson's pursuit of the Ivy League title. Yesterday in Hamden, Conn., the Big Green finished the job, ending Harvard's season with a 3-0 win in the ECAC championship game.
Harvard (12-7, 4-3 Ivy) had advanced to the final in dramatic fashion, beating Drexel 2-1 on Saturday when sophomore Heather Hussey sent a deflection off a free hit into the cage with just three seconds remaining in regulation.
But against the Big Green (14-6, 5-2), physical play and the irregular grass surface, on which the Crimson had not played since a 2-0 win Sept. 25 at Yale, knocked Harvard off its game, resulting in the team's most lopsided loss of the season.
"It's a little disappointing for our season to end this way," tri-captain Katie Schoolwerth said. "We played these games on grass, which is so different from the turf we usually play on, and it's just unrepresentative of the skills we have. This field was in really bad condition, it was bumpy and there wasn't much room to play a passing game."
Dartmouth 3, Harvard 0
Harvard's season ended with its worst loss--only the second time this year that the Crimson was outscored by more than one goal.
Dartmouth's Lauren Scopaz, who was a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection and the ECAC tournament MVP, opened the scoring with 18:13 left in the first half, finishing a feed from Kristen Leadbeater.
It was the 14th goal of the season for Scopaz, who also scored twice in the Big Green's 4-1 semifinal win over host Quinnipiac.
The Big Green's keeper Brittany D'Augustine made that 1-0 lead stand up, stopping five shots to earn her sixth shutout of the season.
D'Augustine also won her second head-to-head duel with Harvard tri-captain Anya Cowan, who was named the first team keeper ahead of her. Cowan was busy, making seven saves, as Dartmouth outshot Harvard 14-8.
"I think we played good defense, but sometimes on that surface the ball can just jump over your stick and that's all it takes to create a breakaway," Schoolwerth said. "We had a few unlucky turnovers, but there was no defensive breakdown or anything like that. It felt like we spent a lot of time making up for mistakes that weren't our fault."
Big Green freshman Lauren Welsh completed the scoring, gunning in her first goal with 9:27 left in the second after slipping through the Harvard defense, and netting her second on a penalty corner after time had expired.
Schoolwerth said the team struggled to establish itself on offense, since it was forced to abandon much of its passing game on the grass surface of Braves Field.
"It's difficult to have set plays and run a passing game on grass," Schoolwerth said. "It's much more of a big ball game, just hit the ball up into space and see where it goes."
Unfortunately for Harvard, it didn't seem to go to any of the right places, and the Crimson was left with two maddening losses to a team it always felt it was capable of beating.
"It's definitely frustrating to lose to [Dartmouth] again," Schoolwerth said. "We lost for the same reasons--they're a very physical team and though we're physical too, we're much more of a passing team."
Harvard 2, Drexel 1
In the first-ever meeting between Harvard and Drexel, the Crimson waited until the absolute last minute to dispatch the Dragons.
Hussey scored when she redirected Schoolwerth's desperation free hit from inside a scrum in front of the Drexel cage.
"It was a scramble in front of the net and [Hussey] touched it in," Schoolwerth said. "It came off a free hit from outside the circle and my teammates were just screaming at me to hit it and I put it into a big crowd in front of the net."
Harvard took the lead just under 10 minutes into the game on a similar play, when tri-captain Dominique Kalil deflected another free hit by Schoolwerth past the Dragons' keeper Heather Haigh, who made six saves to Cowan's four on the afternoon.
"It was another deflection--it seems like that's how every goal is scored on grass," Schoolwerth.
Drexel's Pamie Zukowski, who led the Dragons with 14 goals and five assists entering Saturday's game, notched the equalizer with 17:15 left in the first off an assist from Kelly O'Donnell.
That tie lasted until Hussey's game-winner, which marked the second time in two games that Harvard had won in the last 10 seconds. Junior Maisa Badawy won last Saturday's overtime decision at Brown on a breakaway with just 10 seconds left.
Cowan and Schoolwerth were the Crimson's representatives on the All-Ivy first team, and both were unanimous selections.
Badawy and freshman sharpshooter Kalen Ingram made the second team, while Kalil and freshman Katie Scott earned honorable mentions.