The Harvard women’s lacrosse team fell behind early on Saturday and never recovered, losing to Massachusetts by a final score of 18–7.
The Crimson (1-1), coming off a last-minute 14-13 victory over Holy Cross in the opening game of its season, was unable to build on that success, losing decisively to the Minutewomen (3-1) at Jordan Field.
UMass scored nine goals in a row, 17 of 18 over a 36-minute span, and led by as much as 18-3.
“We had an off day all around, from everyone on the team,” said Harvard coach Sarah Nelson ’94. “The team is frustrated and the coaches are frustrated because we didn’t show what we’re capable of. It should have been a really close game.”
The game was competitive in the opening minutes, as sophomore Kaitlin Martin struck first for the Crimson to give the squad a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, she scored a second goal to put Harvard up 2-1 following a UMass equalizer.
That would be the last time the Crimson led, however, as UMass quickly took over. The Minutewomen’s nine-goal run put them up, 10-2, and four unanswered goals to close the period, including three in the final minute, pushed their halftime lead to 14-3.
UMass was able to control the ball on offense and utilized strong off-the-ball movement to shed defenders on switches and create open cutters, who found themselves alone on the Harvard crease.
The Crimson’s lone goal during this stretch came when Martin drew a foul with the Minutewomen’s keeper out of the cage. The play was restarted with both the keeper and Martin’s defender trailing her, and she completed her hat trick by tossing the ball into an empty net.
The beginning of the second half mirrored the end of the first with four consecutive UMass goals. At that point the score was 18-3, and the Crimson’s final four tallies came long after the outcome had been decided.
The visitors’ extremely long offensive possessions seemed to tire the Harvard defense, which began to lose track of the attacking Minutewomen with increasing frequency as the first half wore on.
This problem was compounded by an ineffective Crimson clear, which was just 8-for-23 for the game. UMass forced several turnovers in transition, especially in the opening minutes.
“I think it started in the first five minutes when we had open passes we didn’t connect on and [the ball] came right back on our defense,” Nelson said.
The overworked Harvard defense was whistled for fouls frequently throughout the first half. The Minutewomen were awarded 11 first-half free-position shots on Crimson freshman goalie Katherine Martino, converting on five.
Conversely, Harvard earned only one trip to the eight-meter penalty arc in the opening 30 minutes.
“Our defenders needed to have more body control,” Nelson said. “Our defenders needed to have more poise, certainly. But it was tough that we were just never able to get possession. The fouling was frustrating from our defense.”
The Crimson looks to get back on track this Wednesday when it travels across town to take on Boston College in a non-conference matchup.