A hungry and aggressive Black Bear attack pushed the Crimson defenders towards their own goal mouth while the Maine fullbacks sealed off the pitch at midfield, halting Harvard’s advances.
But a single misstep by the Black Bear goalkeeper changed the game’s course and triggered a Crimson offensive explosion that ultimately led to a 3-0 victory.
With just over 15 minutes remaining in the first half, Harvard (2-2) broke Maine’s defensive choke hold, squeezing the ball past defenders who had until that point—with just the lone exception—snuffed out the Crimson offense, and raced up field toward goal.
Senior midfielder Katie Westfall sent a ball behind the Maine defense. When Black Bear goalkeeper Tanya Adorno came out to play it, she saw a defender racing back. Seemingly confused, Adorno skidded right by the ball on the grass dampened by the early afternoon rainfall.
That left junior forward Emily Colvin with an empty net, and she calmly knocked the ball into the far side for a 2-0 lead with 14:08 to go in the half.
“It was a gift with a wide-open goal,” Colvin said. “But it was also a beautiful ball from Katie. I was wide on the weak side, and she hit a through ball. The defender and the goalie were sort of there but had a miscommunication, so it was just me and the goal.”
The assist was the 24th of Westfall’s career, tying her with Kelly Landry ’85 for fourth all-time at Harvard.
Though visibly frustrated by the sudden change of fortune, Maine (4-1) continued to battle, but the extra spring in the Black Bears’ steps—previously supplying the edge necessary to win challenged balls on long runs—was gone.
Harvard reached more of the balls sent over the tops of defenders and escalated its assault on goal.
“We’ve been working on fitness a lot,” junior Alisha Moran said. “We had fitness tests coming in that everyone worked really hard to pass over the summer. We’ve continued to keep it up.”
The Crimson maintained that pressure early in the second half, controlling long passes and catching the defense unprepared.
“It did seem like the ball was just bouncing around in the first half a lot,” Moran said. “In the second we got more control. [Maine’s] defense was just winning the ball and not giving us a chance in the first half.”
With Harvard’s quick slashes through open passing lanes and breaks in transition, the Maine defense was overwhelmed.
Soon, Adorno was, as well.
Five minutes after halftime, senior forward Alisa Sato threaded a pass through the defense, catching Moran perfectly in stride. With a fake to shake off her two markers, Moran found daylight with the goal straight in front of her.