As with just about any tough loss, what made the women’s lacrosse team’s 10-9 defeat yesterday at the hands of Cornell so heartbreaking was the fact that the game was winnable the whole way through.
With less than a minute left in the Crimson’s (6-9, 1-6 Ivy) last game of the season, Big Red (5-9, 3-4 Ivy) goaltender Maggie Fava stopped a shot on goal by Harvard senior attackman Jen Brooks that would have tied the score at 10.
The save finally sealed the Crimson’s fate after a long game in which it simply would not give up.
Down 4-1 with less than two minutes left in the first half, Harvard went on a run that evened up the score at 4-4 only 28 seconds into the second half.
Sparking that run was freshman attack Liz Gamble, who turned in a free position goal with 1:43 left in the first half.
Her tally was followed moments later by a goal from junior attack Catherine Sproul with 1:17 left in the half off an assist from freshman midfielder Caroline Hines, her first of five assists yesterday.
During the opening 20 minutes the Crimson relied heavily on another solid performance by freshman goaltender Kathryn Tylander, who had four of her five saves in the first half.
“She came up big in the first 20 minutes of the first half,” Gamble said. “She always has tremendous games and always saves us.”
With the second half underway, Hines was soon again on the offensive, feeding sophomore Elaine Belitsos for her game-tying goal just 28 seconds into the half.
The Crimson seemed briefly to be back in control of the game early in the second half, only to watch Cornell quickly double its score in less than eight minutes, setting the score at 8-4.
The Big Red’s run benefited heavily from the input of midfielder Lyndsay Robinson, who contributed two assists and a goal to help Cornell reestablish its lead.
The teams traded two goals apiece before the Crimson took control of the momentum with 9:57 left in the second half off sophomore midfielder Allison Kaveney’s second goal of the game.
At the 8:35 mark, Gamble scored her second goal of the game off an assist by Hines—her fifth of the game.
Gamble, who has seen little action this season due to a persistent leg injury, said that Hines had made a great effort to get her the ball in scoring position.
“She knew how much this meant to me to try and get me back on my feet,” Gamble said.
Hines, who has been a lynchpin of the Crimson offense all season with her unselfish play, said she is always looking for the open player.
“I definitely look to pass because we have a lot of people who can convert on offense. There are a lot of girls who have just a great stick in the middle,” Hines said.
With just 2:27 remaining in the game and the Crimson trailing the Big Red 10-8, Hines again answered the call, setting up a chance to send the game to overtime with an unassisted goal that cut the Big Red lead to one.
“It was an important goal because it kept the team energy alive. I felt really confident because were on a couple goal streak,” Hines said.
Although the Crimson eventually came up short, many of the players were encouraged by the way the team held their composure throughout the game.
“It is hard to lose by one, but we played really well as a team today,” Gamble said. “As a team we felt it was a really good game to end on.”
Tylander attributed the loss to the team’s inability to stay focused for the entire game.
“I think it was another instance where we didn’t play 60 minutes of the game. We had a great first half defensively and a great last 10 minutes offensively but we lost our way somewhere in the middle,” Tylander said.
While the Crimson only tallied one victory against an Ivy League opponent this season—last Saturday at Columbia—players were proud of the strides they made as a team and are optimistic for the future.
“I definitely think that this season put us on the map. The teams that we lost to by one or two goals, we definitely would have been crushed by in the past,” Hines said.
The team will lose three seniors next year, but will gain the services of eight recruits.
Gamble said that the elevated play of the rising juniors and seniors combined with the added freshman will make the team a serious contender in the Ivy League.
“We are going to be a dominant force next year, and no team can look past us,” Gamble said.
—Staff writer Nathaniel A. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.