After losing its last three games to a trio of Top 10 teams, the Harvard women's lacrosse team was hurting and in desperate need of a win yesterday at Penn.
Downing the Quakers, 11-9, was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Sophomore attacker Lizzy Frisbie led the Crimson charge with a hat trick, and junior attacker Lauren Corkery knotted two in the winning effort.
Harvard (4-3, 2-1 Ivy) pounded the Quaker (5-3, 1-3 Ivy) net early, scoring five straight goals to end the first half and take a 5-1 lead into halftime.
The Harvard run didn't stop there, however, as the Crimson scored three to open the second half and cap an impressive eight-goal scoring run to take a commanding 8-1 lead.
Outmatched and outgunned, however, the Quakers would not relent.
With an outstanding individual effort, Penn sophomore Traci Marabella pocketed the natural hat trick to put the Quakers back in the game and cut the Harvard lead to 8-4.
Not to be outdone, the Crimson responded with three goals of its own to re-establish a comfortable seven-goal lead at 11-4.
That was all for the Crimson, however, as Penn roared back with five unanswered goals to cut the lead down to 11-9 with 3:20 to play.
The Quakers would fall short with their comeback bid, however, as the Crimson defense tightened up in the final minutes, denying Penn the equalizer.
It was the sixth game in a row in which Harvard failed to outscore its opponents in the second half, the continuation of a dangerous trend.
Against No. 10 Yale last Sunday, Harvard allowed a halftime lead to evaporate as the Bulldogs rallied, netting the game-winning goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation en route to a 7-6 victory.
In the Ivy opener versus Brown, the pattern was similar.
Harvard allowed a 6-3 halftime lead to disappear, but like yesterday, was able to hold on in the final minutes for an 11-10 win.
If the Crimson continues to allow teams to come back in the second half against them, however, it may be a rough next couple of games.
Next Saturday, the Crimson hosts No.2 Princeton before No.9 Dartmouth makes a trip to town the next week.
Heading into the game against Penn, the Crimson was hoping to finish strongly in the second half and finish off its opponents when it had the chance.
Exactly the opposite happened yesterday.
Harvard almost allowed the Quakers to come back from an 11-4 deficit yesterday, and if the Crimson continues to struggle in the second half, Harvard may be in store for another rout.
No. 11 BU beat up on Harvard last Wednesday with a 12-2 win backed by eight unanswered second-half goals.
If Harvard doesn't improve its play in the second half, the Crimson will meet a similar fate against both Princeton and Dartmouth.