Title Still Within Reach For Field Hockey
“We’re still in [the title race], and we’re playing to win the Ivy League,” senior midfielder Shelley Maasdorp said.
Coming off an impressive 3-1 win on Wednesday against No. 17 Boston University, Harvard kept the good times rolling, employing a lethal penalty corner and stingy defense.
Nearly all eight of the Crimson penalty corners resulted in excellent shots on goal, and two in the first half netted scores.
The first came less than nine minutes into the game, when junior midfielder Jen McDavitt pushed the insertion out to captain midfielder Kate Gannon, who settled the ball and allowed Maasdorp to rip a shot into the cage. The trio again collaborated on a goal less than eight minutes later, pushing the margin to 2-0.
“Our corners have become a really strong point in our offensive play,” Gannon said. “We are doing a great job drawing corners on attack, and we’ve been very consistent with our execution.”
With the pair of scores, Maasdorp pushed her Ivy-leading goal total to 17 and point total to 39. She is now two goals and three points shy of the Harvard all-time single season records, both set by Judy Collins in 1998.
Sophomore forward Gretchen Fuller added a third score, her seventh of the year, early in the second half from an assist by McDavitt, her 17th of the year. McDavitt became the Crimson’s single-season record holder with her three assists on Saturday, and is currently one ahead of Gannon, whose two helpers pushed her total to 16 this year.
“We are at a point in the season where we are doing a really good job of playing together as a team. We’ve gotten to know each other’s tendencies, and it’s making for some really nice combination play that ends up with good outcomes,” Gannon said.
On the defensive side of the field, senior goalkeeper Aliaa Remtilla made six saves, most of them brilliant ones. The Big Green offense, predicated on making long passes ahead in hopes of gaining breakaway opportunities, had a few chances for goals, but, stabbing a high hard shot, diving to her right and left, and dropping to the turf with her legs split, Remtilla repeatedly denied the Dartmouth charge.
“She was focused and proactive, she read their plays very well, and even when she couldn’t read them she managed to pull out great saves,” Maasdorp said.
“I’ve been using field hockey as a way to get rid of my anger and frustration after losing to Princeton, so there was a bit of that involved as well,” Remtilla said.
There was an added dimension to this game against the Big Green. Last year, Dartmouth upset Harvard with a chance at an Ivy title on the line for the Crimson in a controversial game.
“Yes, we wanted to beat them and beat them thoroughly because of what happened last year,” Maasdorp said. “We wanted to show them that we were the better team by far when it came to skill and teamwork. We managed to prove that hugely. Also, we wanted to beat them because they beat Princeton.”
Harvard’s chances at securing a solo Ivy title took a huge hit last weekend at Princeton when the Crimson lost its handle on a 1-0 lead with three minutes to play, losing 2-1 to the 10-time defending Ivy champion Tigers.
Right now, Harvard, Princeton and Penn all have one league loss with one game remaining on their schedules. If the Crimson can beat Ivy-cellar dweller Columbia on Saturday and the Quakers manage to top the Tigers on Friday, Harvard would be the sole Ivy champion and receive the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. If Princeton wins, then the Crimson and the Tigers are co-champs, but Princeton would get the bid to the tourney because it beat Harvard head-to-head.
“As far as we’re concerned, we are still very much in the Ivy title race,” Gannon said. “We will definitely be paying close attention to the Penn-Princeton game this week and have our fingers crossed that Penn will be able to come out on top. It should be a close game, I think, so we will just have to wait and see.”
Harvard takes on the Lions in its last regular season game on Saturday at noon at Jordan Field.
—Staff writer J. Patrick Coyne can be reached at email@example.com.