Fresh off a 39-goal outburst last week in two games against Holy Cross and Massachusetts—the largest two-game Crimson offensive output since 1996—the Harvard women’s lacrosse team (3-0) stumbled early but bounced back Wednesday afternoon against Albany (2-2) to notch a 16-10 victory.
It was an afternoon of contrasts at Jordan Field. An unseasonably balmy start to the game coincided with a slow first frame for Harvard.
Although the Crimson registered the opening goal of the match, a shot from Caroline Simmons 1:55 in—the first of two scores on the afternoon for the senior attacker—Albany stayed with Harvard.
“They started off strong and played great,” Simmons said. “They didn’t give up until the end.”
The teams exchanged scores for the first 20 minutes. At that point, with the contest tied at 4-4, the Great Danes pulled away with two goals to close out the frame with a 6-4 lead, besting Crimson senior netminder Kathryn Tylander, last week’s Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week.
It was an unfamiliar sight for a Harvard team that had never been outscored in a half this season.
“We were flat-footed the first half,” Crimson coach Lisa Miller said. “Albany was more aggressive, more assertive. At first, they double teamed [freshman midfielder Jess Halpern].”
While tallying more goals than Harvard in the first frame, Albany—led by attackers Tee Ladouceur and Christine Grueniger— also managed to shut down Harvard on the defensive end, Halpern, who led the Crimson with eight goals coming into yesterday’s game.
The second half came with a shift in momentum, thanks to some words of encouragement from Miller.
“She gave us a big halftime talk,” Simmons said. “Have some heart and fight back.”
With that impetus, Harvard stormed back. The Great Danes took a 7-4 lead 1:33 in to the closing period, but the Crimson rebounded with authority and tallied six unanswered goals in eight minutes to take a 10-7 lead.
Albany only mustered four second frame scores against sophomore goalkeeper Katherine Martino, a substitute for Tylander.
“The defense stepped it up in the second half,” Simmons said. “The goalie stepped it up too.”
Offensive play for the home squad improved as well.
“Everyone attacked better in the second half,” Miller said. “We controlled the clock more.”
Senior midfielder Natalie Curtis led Harvard with four goals, including two quick tallies with less than 10 minutes remaining that gave the Crimson a 14-8 lead. Junior attacker Kaitlin Martin and junior midfielder Sarah Bancroft also added three scores each.
Martin recorded the shot that tied the game, 7-7, 6:34 in to the second half, capping off the Crimson comeback. After intercepting a clear from Albany goalie Katie Neer, Martin charged towards the net and scored on an ensuing free position shot after Neer committed a shooting space infraction.
Sophomore attacker Sara Flood was the other standout of the afternoon with two goals and three assists for Harvard.
The Crimson will face New Hampshire next Wednesday, March 12th, on the road, followed by another away game at Quinnipiac on Sunday, March 16th.
For the first time since 2000, Harvard is 3-0 in the standings. The Crimson intends to keep this hot streak going, with minor tweaks after the brief stagnation of yesterday’s first half.
“We have to do some little stuff,” Miller said. “We need to go back to some fundamentals as we prepare for next week.”
Next time out, Harvard might not be able to afford a sluggish start.
“New Hampshire is big and strong,” Miller finished. “We have to take things one step at a time.”
The players are determined to keep the momentum going as well, driven by a stellar start to their first season under Coach Miller.
“It’s going to be the same as today,” said Simmons. “We need to focus on playing our game right from the start. Working on the fundamentals, getting faceoffs, converting the small stuff.”