Crimson Loses Late Lead to Penn

There were a lot of similarities between the Harvard women’s lacrosse team’s match against Penn this weekend and its victory over BU earlier in the week and at least one key difference—this time they lost 10-9.

In both games the Crimson (5-5, 0-3 Ivy) ended the first half up 7-4. In both games Harvard gave up that lead in the second half, managing only two goals. And in both games the winning goal came off free position shots. Unfortunately, on Saturday that goal belonged to the Quakers (7-5, 3-1).

For the first half, though, Harvard turned in an overwhelming offensive performance that included a stretch of five goals in six minutes.

“We really played some the best lacrosse we’ve played all season,” said junior attackman Catherine Sproul. “We were hitting each other with our passes, we were clean, we were making our shots. I think we were confident going into it and we fought hard.”

The last Crimson goals of both halves came from freshman midfielder Margaret Yellott, including a stunner that found Penn’s net with no time left on the clock in the first half.

Though the Quakers took an early lead, scoring just 25 seconds into the game, and then again four minutes later, the Harvard came charging back just moments later.

Sproul turned in the Crimson’s first goal in the game’s 16th minute.

Shortly after, Harvard opened up an offensive flurry that registered four goals in two-and-a-half minutes, including two goals within 27 seconds of each other from senior midfielder Jen Brooks.

“[Brooks] is great on transitions,” said Sproul. “She’s very fast and has a very quick first couple of steps and somehow miraculously keeps the ball in her stick, [which means] she’s great at one on one plays. That’s definitely her style.”

The other goals came from junior midfielder Casey Owens and sophomore midfielder Elaine Belitsos, setting the score at 5-2 with eight minutes left in the half.

Harvard traded goals with the Quakers for the remainder of the half, with goals by Sproul and Yellott.

The Crimson added two more scores in the first 18 minutes of the second half—one from Yellott and a free position goal from Brooks.

With 12:48 left in the game, the score stood at 9-6 with Harvard seeming set to maintain its lead and cruise to victory.

Then things fell apart.

The Crimson found itself unable to get the ball up the field and was outshot by the Quakers 19-3.

Penn went on a 4-0 run during the final 11:56 of the contest, with three of those goals scored by senior midfielder Lindsey Cassidy in a four-and-a-half minute span.

“They put heavy, heavy, heavy pressure on us in the midfield that we weren’t able to break through,” said Sproul. “They kept the ball in our end of the field for the last 10 minutes.”

That Penn only managed four goals in that time speaks to the continued strength of freshman goalkeeper Kathryn Tylander, who tallied 13 saves on the day—seven of them in the second half.

“[Tylander] really acts like an adult,” said Sproul. “She has so much poise, so much maturity, and I think it shows on the field. She doesn’t let close games rattle her, but unfortunately we just gave them have too many opportunities.”

The Quakers’ final goal came off a free position shot with 59 seconds left, marking the second game in a row where the officials have played a decisive role late in the game.

Penn had seven free position shots in the second half.

Harvard’s inability to hold leads in the second half has caused it a great deal of concern over the last week, against both BU and the Quakers.

“It’s frustrating,” Sproul said. “We’re so good at getting ahead and coming from behind, and we’re so bad at keeping a lead. It’s jut a position we’re not used to... hopefully we’ll get used to it and start pulling these games out.”

This week Harvard will face New Hampshire (4-5) on the road on Wednesday and Princeton (11-0) at home on Saturday.

—Staff writer Nathaniel A. Smith can be reached at