Within the first five minutes of last night’s game, Harvard junior goaltender Katie Zacarian set the tone for the rest of the match against UMass with a highlight reel-worthy penalty stroke save.
“I was happy I made the save, because it definitley influenced the game,” said Zacarian, who led the Crimson in a 4-0 shutout win at UMass’ Garber Field. “[The shooter] was a girl I played against in high school. It’s good to see old rivaries rekindled.” This was Zacarian’s first trip playing in her hometon in Amherst against UMass.
The win for Harvard (4-1, 2-0 Ivy) was its second in a row and the latest loss in a frustrating year for a rebuilding UMass squad.
Although the Crimson is now able to boast victories over the Minutewomen (0-8, 0-0) in consecutive years, it was only Harvard’s second win over UMass since 1984.
UMass has earned five NCAA Tournament appearnaces in the last five years as Atlantic-10 champions. But the loss of key seniors—including three-time All-American forward Anke Bruemmer—coupled with a tough schedule has offered the team a new set of challenges and struggles, which played a part in Harvard’s pre-game strategy.
Following the save, the first of six for Zacarian, the Crimson kept the ball in the Minutewomen’s zone for the greater part of the first half.
This consistent offensive attack alleviated the pressure on Zacarian and helped her notch her third shutout in five games.
Junior Mina Pell struck first, capitalizing on a rebound with an unassissted tip-in goal at 15:11 in the first half.
Felow junior Liz Andrews followed up with a penalty stroke, scoring a straight corner from the top of the circle with assistance from Pell and senior Jen Ahn.
“We had two main goals going into the match,” said junior Kate McDavitt. “One, touch-passing back and forth, and two—knowing UMass was struggling—we wanted to make sure we kept the intensity and pace of the game up.”
McDavitt helped build this level in the first half, assisting senior Philomena Gambale on a shot fired over the UMass goalie’s head before halftime.
The level of play dropped dramatically in the second half for the Crimson. With a three-goal lead, offensive pressure lessened as the Minutewomen started to come together on the defensive end.
McDavitt scored the lone goal of the second half after dribbling down the circle and penetrating the defense.
“One of our main objectives this season, regardless of who we play, is to play to our ability,” Zacarian said. “We have been progressing toward that game by game.”
The Crimson will look to do just that in Providence, R.I., on Saturday, and stretch its win streak to three in the process. A victory over Brown, 1-1 in early Ivy League play, will only help its NCAA fate down the road.
“This [Saturday] will be a good test,” Zacarian said. “We want to make it our Harvard game, not play up to or down to the competition.”