The teams looked certain to end the first half in a scoreless tie, but a Providence foul as time expired gave Harvard (6-1, 3-0 Ivy) its eighth penalty corner before intermission.
Junior back Jen Ahn laid down a flawless stick stop, leaving the ball for sophomore midfielder Shelley Maasdorp. Maasdorp fired a shot past the goalkeeper’s left foot to give the Crimson a 1-0 lead at the break.
“I think the goal definitely gave us some confidence,” Maasdorp said.
The unseasonable heat on the turf, however, stifled the Crimson’s momentum early in the second half, producing a lethargic final period with little offense.
However, junior midfielder Kate McDavitt—last week’s Ivy Player of the Week—took advantage of a brief Friar defensive breakdown in the 64th minute when she received the ball in front and drove it cleanly to the back of the cage, putting the game out of reach.
The goal was McDavitt’s eighth of the season, eclipsing her total from freshman year with 10 regular season games still to play.
Though the Friars (5-7) played a sound defensive game overall, they never found an offensive rhythm during the match. The Providence offense struggled against a Harvard defense that showed as much intensity as it had all season.
Caples said the defense needed substantial improvement after the Crimson’s close win against Brown last Saturday.
“Providence put pressure on our defense, but our backs did a better job of denying them,” Caples said.
Not only did the Harvard backs hold strong, but junior goalkeeper Katie Zacarian showed once again why she is considered one of the best netminders in the Ivy League. Zacarian had four saves en route to her third shutout of the year. She presently leads the Ivies with a 1.05 goals against average.
The Crimson outshot the Friars 15-4 and outcornered them 12-3, but only converted on one of the corners.
Harvard now faces its most daunting match of the season, as it hosts No. 3 Wake Forest on Saturday. The game will go a long way in determining whether Harvard can contend with the elite teams on the college circuit.
The Crimson has yet to earn a national ranking this season, but a victory against the Demon Deacons or next week’s midweek opponent No. 11 Northeastern would likely amend that.
“We can compete with [Wake Forest],” Caples said confidently. “We probably need to raise it a notch or two, but we can compete with them.”
—Contributing writer Wes Kauble can be reached at email@example.com