The Crimson (2-0) used a six-goal second half to swamp Vermont 9-1 on Friday at Jordan Field, its synthetic-turf replacement for the natural grass surface at Cumnock Field, then edged URI 2-1 yesterday in Kingston, R.I.
Harvard also switched its primary offense from a three-forward to a two-forward set, and tri-captain Dominique Kalil helped the Crimson capitalize, scoring two goals and adding four assists on the weekend.
Fellow tri-captain Katie Schoolwerth scored two goals of her own, including yesterday's game-winner, and sophomore midfielder Eliza Dick collected three goals to pace Harvard.
"Our new offense has made us much more versatile," Kalil said. "It was great to get everyone involved the way we did. Last year, we lost our first game, and that scarred us for the whole season."
Harvard 2, URI 1
Schoolwerth was the team's second-leading scorer in 1998, behind Judy Collins, who was a First-Team Regional All-American and tied the Ivy League career scoring record with 102 points.
Schoolwerth had five goals and 10 assists in 1998.
The Rams outshot Harvard 21-15, but goalkeeper Anya Cowan, also a tri-captain, stopped 13 shots, her best effort since making 17 saves in an overtime loss to Yale last season.
Harvard took a 1-0 lead when Dick finished an assist from Kalil with 21:58 remaining in the first half, but URI's Kelly Barnowski found the equalizer with 4:42 remaining off a penalty corner assisted by Erica Coggins and Quinn Sitterly.
Harvard 9, Vermont 1
In driving rain, the Crimson peppered Vermont's rookie goalkeeper with 25 shots en route to a 9-1 romp in Friday's season opener.
Four Harvard starters--Kalil, Dick, freshman midfielder Kalen Ingram and junior midfielder Liz Sarles--scored two goals apiece, while Kalil and Ingram each added a pair of assists to pace the Crimson on the brand-new synthetic turf at Jordan.
Harvard took a 3-1 lead into halftime, but four goals in the opening 6:08 of the second buried the young Catamounts (0-3), who carry nine freshmen on a roster of 20.
Ingram, who notched her first collegiate goal at 11:35 of the first half when she tucked in the rebound of Sarles's shot on a penalty corner, scored at 33:18 of the second, and Kalil followed at 31:42 to make the Crimson lead 5-1.
"The goals started coming and they just had a domino effect," Kalil said. "We were very calm, we knew what we had to accomplish, and we did a good job testing the waters."
Sarles then chipped in both of her goals, converting a one-timer on a penalty corner with 30:00 remaining and finishing Ingram's feed 1:08 later.
Dick rounded out the scoring, punching in a loose ball from the crease with 23:24 remaining, then burying the rebound of a shot by junior midfielder Maisa Badawy with 4:12 to play. Badawy finished the weekend with four assists.
Kalil, who was third on the team in scoring with five goals and six assists in 1998, keyed a Crimson offensive rush late in the first half that answered Vermont's only tally of the game.
Kalil took a feed in the midfield and outran Vermont's sweeper to create a one-on-one match-up with Colberg. Kalil then induced Colberg to go down for a potential save, then took the ball around her to the right side and found an angle into the bottom left corner of the net with just 19 seconds remaining in the first to make the score 3-1.
A second score by Kalil just before halftime would have made the score 4-1, but it was disallowed because it came after time had expired.
"Even though it didn't count, I think that goal psyched us up," Kalil said. "We came back strong in the second half and we just tried to prolong our crescendo for as long as we could."
Jordan's new surface paid immediate dividends, as the Crimson had a substantial advantage on the fast-moving surface. Harvard kept the ball for most of the game, and Cowan only had to make four saves in 40 minutes. Sophomore Jen Crusius played the other 30 and stopped one shot.
Making the transition from grass to turf marks a major step for the Crimson, and now Yale is the only Ivy school still playing its home games on grass. Artificial turf dramatically speeds up the game and is considered a prerequisite for a top-caliber field hockey program.
"Playing on grass was just retarding us as a program," Kalil said. "Top-10 teams won't even play on grass--it's simply not worth their while. Our coach [Sue Caples] really pushed for it, and we are so appreciative. It can only work to Harvard's advantage."
The Crimson plays a non-league game against UNH on Friday before opening its Ivy schedule on Sunday against Columbia. The Crimson finished tied for second in the Ivy last season at 5-2, behind perennial national powerhouse Princeton, which was undefeated in league play.