After a close call against No. 16 Richmond on Saturday, the Crimson suffered its second loss of the season at the hands of No. 3 Maryland. However, though the 5-1 score may have indicated the game was a blowout, Harvard left the field knowing it had played its best game yet.
“On Sunday we played really well,” junior midfielder Shelley Maasdorp said. “The level of play helped us to lift our game. [and] it has put us in a good mindset for Wednesday’s game.”
Though Harvard (3-2, 1-0 Ivy) is certainly at a low point in its young season, UConn (5-2, 1-0 Big East) is starting to put it together. But much of its success has come at the expense of lesser opponents. Just like the Crimson, the Huskies have lost both of their matches against nationally-ranked opponents—No. 6 Penn State and No. 7 Old Dominion.
As difficult as last weekend was, an even greater challenge will present itself on Wednesday. Entering last weekend, the Crimson had been building upon the momentum of its close wins to begin the season, but now it must look to recapture that drive after a miserable road trip. Playing the Huskies seems to be a great way to rediscover the excitement that had enraptured Harvard to start off the season.“We have the experience, that we know we’re capable of coming back,” Harvard coach Sue Caples said after the team’s come-from-behind overtime win against Penn.
Last year’s contest was close until the end, with UConn sophomore midfielder Becky Helwig scoring two goals, including the game-winner, to knot a 3-2 victory. Today’s game will most likely come down to the wire and only time will tell which team can come out on top in this battle.
With the home-field advantage falling to the Huskies in this match, Harvard will have to work hard to come away with a win. The Crimson will have to display a large amount of tenacity on both sides of the field, as UConn will bring the Big East Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week onto the turf of the Sherman Family Sports Complex.
Senior forward Mary Jo Malone will be the focus of the Harvard defense. In the Huskies’ most recent win, a 4-0 pasting of Villanova, Malone tallied two goals to bring her season total to a Big East-leading nine scores. She also tallied an assist in the game.
However, the toughest task for Harvard today will be trying to find a way to revive its struggling offense. The Big East’s Defensive Player of the Week is Husky senior goalkeeper Maureen Butler, who has dominated the opposition in nearly every game she has played this season. Butler has a firm goals against average of .870 and notched three saves in Connecticut’s Villanova victory. With the Crimson offense still looking for a solid effort every time it steps on the field, Maureen Butler is not the netminder it needs to face to get back on track.
“Our team is very eager to beat [UConn]. If we play like we did on Sunday, we’ll be able to defeat them,” Maasdorp said.