The Harvard women’s lacrosse team stumbled late in yesterday afternoon’s game against Quinnipiac, but it never fell.
The Crimson (2-0) rode a blowout first-half margin through a weaker second frame to top the Bobcats 13-11. Harvard used its substantial lead at the half to play more from its bench, but Quinnipiac (0-3) took advantage of the Crimson’s fluctuating lineup to jump back into a game that had seemed assuredly within Harvard’s control.
The first and second halves seemed like different games, as the tides of momentum changed dramatically in the Bobcats’ favor.
“Because we had such a substantial lead going into the second half, we may have let up a little bit and really not have taken them as seriously,” captain Catherine Sproul said.
After beginning the second half with a seven-minute scoring drought, the Crimson spread its lead to 11-3 with goals from free position by sophomore attackman Perry Barlow and freshman midfielder Ali Hines.
Harvard played much of its roster in the second half—lending experience to new players, but also disrupting the team’s cohesiveness to open the door for a second-half Quinnipiac run.
“I think it’s not who was on the field, but that the combination was changing all the time,” senior midfielder Casey Owens said. “It’s hard to get into a groove.”
Quinnipiac responded in furious form, outscoring the Crimson 8-4 in the second period and 6-1 in the final 10 minutes of the game.
“The mental aspect of being on top by eight—you see it as a huge lead, so you think you can take more risks or get a little lackadaisical with passing or catching,” Owens said.
Although Harvard had the insurance of a wide lead, the team began to lose touch with its fundamentals in the second half, especially in the midfield.
“Our play started to get sloppy. I think we started to lose confidence as a team, and that led to us having problems doing the basics—catching and throwing,” freshman midfielder Natalie Curtis said. “That’s pretty much what you do in the midfield.”
Nevertheless, the Crimson made eight turnovers in the second half, half as many as in the first and the same number as Quinnipiac. The Bobcats did, however, seize possession on eight of 12 faceoffs in the second half.
Despite its late offensive outpouring, Quinnipiac never managed to draw closer than two points from Harvard, thanks to the insurance provided by the Crimson’s first-half attack.
Freshman midfielder Natalie Curtis and attackman Tara Schoen both recorded hat tricks in the first half, leading Harvard to a gaping 9-3 margin at the buzzer.
“They’re not only capable of playing college lacrosse, but capable of dominating,” Sproul said. “The numbers are an accurate reflection of their ability.”
Curtis was also credited with assisting Sproul’s early first-half goal.
Curtis took only 34 seconds to score her first goal of the game from a blitz downfield.
“We certainly came out fired up. We knew that coming into the game we were certainly the better team, and we were supposed to have a clear, distinct win over Quinnipiac,” Curtis said. “I guess we were just starting to execute right away.”
In contrast, Quinnipiac managed tomount only three shots on goal during the entire first half.
Harvard found special success with the free-position shot, from which the team notched five of its goals. Curtis, sophomore midfielder Margaret Yellott, Barlow, Hines, and Owens each capitalized on close-in free-position opportunities in the end of the first half and beginning of the second. The team was far from accurate, however, converting six of 13 shots while Quinnipiac capitalized on four of five.
The Crimson played much of its team, and much of that team scored, as eight players found the back of the net. Yellot posted two goals of her own, and Sproul, Hines, Owens, senior midfielder Elaine Belitsos, and Barlow each picking up one.
“I think our attack came out really strong. We’ve been talking about how to attack and get up early, and they showed that one-on-one they could easily beat the Quinnipiac defenders,” Noon said.
With the win over the Bobcats under its belt, Harvard will see some serious competition Wednesday as it faces off against No. 13 Syracuse at Jordan Field at 3:30 p.m.
—Staff writer Samuel C. Scott can be reached at email@example.com.