Field Hockey Seeks Respect Against Top Foes

With an unblemished record to date, the Harvard field hockey team left for Maryland yesterday where it will play two of its toughest matches of the season.  On Saturday, the Crimson squares off against the No. 20 Richmond Spiders, with No. 3 Maryland waiting in the wings for Sunday’s game.  

After the first two weeks of the season, Harvard has yet to be listed in the STX/NFHCA Coaches Poll, perhaps because the Crimson has not played an upper-tier opponent that would justify a ranking in the nation’s top 20.  

However, if Harvard can come away with at least one win this weekend, its place in Division I’s top shelf will be apparent to all.

Though its game with the Spiders was previously scheduled for today, Harvard will wait to start its weekend until Saturday due to predicted inclement weather from Hurricane Isabel.  

Richmond enters the weekend nationally ranked for the first time in over a decade.  Last week, the Spiders came up big with wins over Stanford as well as then No. 13 William & Mary.  

The Crimson should keep its eye on Richmond’s sophomore sensation Whitney Wells.  The forward was recently named co-conference player of the week after scoring three goals and being credited with one assist over the last two games.  

Harvard coach Sue Caples said she thinks that this game will be close throughout.

“They were the top team in the Atlantic 10 Conference last year, and they were in the NCAA Tournament.  I think it will be a very competitive game,” Caples said.

After what will be a very intense match-up against Richmond, the competition will get even stronger as the Crimson take on No. 3 Maryland.  The Terrapins started off the season with a seven-game winning streak, and are a perennial national championship contender.

Though they are strong across the field, Maryland’s strongest asset is its defense.  

In the seven games they have played, the Terrapins shut out their opponents in six of them.  In fact, Maryland has the second-best scoring defense in the entire nation.  However, the quality of its opponents has been lacking with no matches against ranked teams yet.  

“We have seen Maryland play this year,” Caples said. “They’re very strong, and they’re very deep in talent.  They have four foreigners new to their team this year, and when they bring in foreigners they bring in impact players.

“They’re a top-notch team,” Caples said.

Every year, it is Harvard’s goal to be selected to compete in the NCAA Tournament.  If the Crimson wishes to make its prime objective a reality, then wins against at least one of this weekend’s opponents is a must.

Senior goalkeeper Katie Zacarian will face two strong offenses and will have to be at her best to stave off their attacks.  Furthermore, the Harvard offense must continue to build on the momentum from its last two games—wins over Penn and UMass—and work hard to convert on more scoring opportunities.

“When we get our game going, there is not anyone we cannot compete with and we will be right in there.  [This weekend], the best team wins,” Caples said.