Junior defender Devon Shapiro (right), shown here in earlier action,
keyed Harvard’s strong defense effort in the second half. After
Providence tallied twice in the initial frame, Shapiro and Co. clamped
down to allow no goals to the Friars.
The bright lights of Jordan Field put a spark into the Harvard field hockey team’s offense on Wednesday night. Returning from a weekend loss at Brown, the Crimson (0-8, 0-2 Ivy League) ended their three-game scoreless streak against the No. 15 Providence Friars (10-1) in a 2-1 loss.
Senior forward and team captain Gretchen Fuller scored Harvard’s first goal since September 15.
“[The goal] was really a group effort,” Fuller said. “We just kept shooting and didn’t give up. No one gave up. Everyone helped create the opportunity.”
The Friars dominated control of the ball during the first period. Providence rattled off eight shots, including six on goal.
In the fourteenth minute of the game, Providence forward Abby Maguire netted the Friars’ first goal, her fourth of the season.
Less than ten minutes later, the Friars were given a penalty corner. Two Friars missed the ball as it traveled out of the circle.
With a stroke of luck followed by a stroke of skill, the ball bounced directly in front of Providence midfielder Melissa McGow, who smashed a long backhanded shot past the Crimson goaltender, sophomore Kelly Knoche.
It was McGow’s sixth goal.
“[The Friars] were very good,” Harvard head coach Sue Caples said. “They’re skilled and they’re physical and they’re fast and they did some good things out there.”
The first period ended with Harvard down 2-0. However, the Crimson had not lost its confidence as the team prepared for the second half.
“We knew that we still had it in us to fight and that we still had a chance to win,” Fuller said.
Harvard’s defense played with perseverance and determination throughout the second half.
During the period, the Crimson allowed only two shots on goal, both of which were stopped dead in their tracks by Knoche, who made six saves on the evening.
Junior defender Devon Shapiro was a catalyst for the defense, helping enforce the Crimson’s resistance to Providence’s advances.
“We stuck to our game. We went out there, played with confidence, and it showed,” Shapiro said.
Bolstered by the defense’s strong showing, the Crimson offense finally came to life.
With ten minutes left to go in the game, Harvard pushed down the field, relentlessly attacking the Providence net from inside the circle.
Fuller capped off the assault by ripping her first goal of the season into the back of the Friars’ net.
Harvard continued to put pressure on Providence’s defense, keeping possession of the ball for the rest of the game. However, the Crimson could not capitalize on several scoring chances, and the Friars held off the offensive until the end of regulation.
Despite the loss, Caples beamed with confidence after the game.
“We played a really great match. This team stepped up,” Caples said. “We showed a lot of maturity out there and played a hard seventy minutes. [The players] were mentally there, mentally engaged. We just kept battling back.”
As for Harvard’s reenergized offense, Caples has high hopes for the future.
“We’re going to start putting these [shots] in.”
One hundred and thirty fans cheered for both sides Wednesday, including a poodle suited up in a Providence sweatshirt.
There was no indication that the canine had any say in the result of the game, but with No. 4 seeded Duke coming up next on the schedule for Harvard, perhaps support from another species will swing fortune in the Crimson’s direction.
Harvard, with no games left in the month of September, looks to turn over a winning leaf this coming Sunday as the Crimson hit the road again to face another non-conference foe in the form of Duke (7-2).
Game time in Durham, North Carolina is set for 1 p.m.