After last year’s 5-0 victory over Vermont to start the campaign, the Harvard field hockey team expected once again to open its season by dispatching the Catamounts with ease.
Though the Crimson (1-0) struggled to put the ball in the net this time around, it managed to pull out a 3-2 victory.
“In the first half we did not work hard enough at all,” junior midfielder Shelley Maasdorp said. “But the second half we pulled it together and put out the effort that was needed.”
Trailing 2-1 at halftime, Harvard knew that its intensity needed a jolt. Its comeback began less than two minutes into the second period with a beautifully executed penalty corner that senior Liz Andrews converted to tie the match.
Less than 10 minutes later, Maasdorp slammed another penalty corner past Vermont netminder Ariel Eber for the final score.
Harvard held an offensive advantage for most of the game, firing 38 shots at the Catamounts (0-3). But Eber’s acrobatic goalkeeping frustrated the Crimson’s efforts to score.
“I have a lot of respect for that goalie,” Maasdorp said.
Vermont’s stagnant offense managed only five shots toward Harvard goalkeeper Katie Zacarian.
The Crimson’s flat offense extended to its penalties. With 10 opportunities in the first half, Harvard was clearly frustrated with its inability to convert on penalty corners.
“We had a lot of opportunity,” Harvard coach Sue Caples said. “We just did not have a lot to show for it in the scoring column.”
On the other side of the field, Vermont came up with two goals that clearly set the tone for the initial period. The Catamounts got on the scoreboard with a textbook corner, but the Crimson struck back when sophomore forward Beth Sackovich sent a rebound past Eber.
Vermont took the lead with nine minutes left in the first frame when Christie Layden flung a loose ball out of a flurry of players in the circle and past Zacarian.
After the game, coaches and players spoke of a first half characterized by lackluster effort, although Harvard turned in a solid performance in the second period. However, the Crimson needs to put together a full 70 minutes of intensity.
“The forwards did a great job in the second half of putting pressure on and it helped to change the momentum of the game in our favor,” Caples said. “We’re a little beat up coming out of preseason, but by next weekend we hope to be 100 percent.”
Harvard’s offense hobbled through the match without tri-captain Kate McDavitt, the Crimson’s leading scorer last year, who was temporarily sidelined due to injury.
Though it was certainly not its best performance, the Crimson walked away from the match with a foundation for improvement with a week before its Ivy opener against Penn.