With the remnants of Hurricane Ivan making Jordan Field more like Jordan Swamp, Maine (6-3) dealt the Crimson (4-1) its first loss of the season, a 2-0 setback on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the fact that Harvard owned a 13-3 advantage in penalty corners and an 11-4 edge in shots on goal, the Black Bears dealt their host its first shutout and made the most of the few opportunities they got.
“It was good that we kept them to only four shots, but it was frustrating that they could do what we couldn’t on a lot fewer opportunities,” sophomore midfielder Audrey Ziomek said.
Maine got on the board early. Forward Traci Rainone corralled the rebound from Liz Mindell’s shot and directed the ball past Crimson senior goalie Aliaa Remtilla in the fifth minute.
The wet conditions caused a scoring draught, with passing and dribbling all but stifled by ubiquitous puddles.
“It was hard to move the ball with any speed,” Ziomek said. “We like to play a big game and change the field, but we were forced to play small.”
“We had to adapt to the conditions that we were playing in and Maine was more effective at adapting than we were,” sophomore forward Julie Lane added.
All the precipitation also affected the Harvard penalty corner. Forced to insert the ball on the goalie’s left, rather than the right side that the Crimson customarily uses, Harvard could not find the net on any of its 11 first-half corners.
“We couldn’t insert the way we normally do because the ball wasn’t moving fast enough, but we still should’ve been able to put something in,” Ziomek said.
For the rest of the first half and much of the second period a majority of the turf surface of the field was submerged in upwards of half an inch of water.
“It was basically a kiddie pool of water,” Ziomek said.
With about 15 minutes left in the contest, the rains subsided, but Harvard still couldn’t get settled.
“We weren’t able to get back into the game that we normally do, our quick passing game,” Ziomek said.
The Black Bears were awarded a penalty corner with just under 11 minutes to play, and midfielders Emily Dooling and Katie Flaherty set up back Joanna Fernandes for a straight shot that Fernandes lifted high and into the top corner of the cage.
The goal was a back-breaker for a Crimson team that was desperately trying to level the score near the end of the game.
“We were fighting so hard and we couldn’t even get one goal and then for them to get another was really tough,” Ziomek said.
Harvard, which was ranked 16th in the first National Field Hockey Coaches Association weekly poll, surrendered more than one goal in a game for the first time this year. Maine goalie Jamie Morin made four saves, notching her third shutout of the season.
With the win, the Black Bears snapped the Crimson’s four-game season-opening winning streak and extended its own streak to four games.
“The forward line was not happy with our performance,” Lane said. “It was very frustrating for us but I think it exposed a lot of things we have to work on. We realize that we were going along pretty well and beating teams by a few goals. [This game] reinforces to us that we need to step it up if we’re going to beat all the Ivy teams.”
Harvard will return to Jordan Field Wednesday night to take on No. 6 Connecticut.
—Staff writer J. Patrick Coyne can be reached at email@example.com.