The Harvard field hockey team, loaded with talent and experience, kicked off the new season with a pair of non-league games last weekend. Friday night at Jordan Field, the Crimson won its opener, 1-0, over Holy Cross (0-3) on the strength of a second half goal.
On Sunday, Harvard traveled north to Durham, N.H., where the Crimson (1-1) gave up an early lead and ultimately lost, 3-2, to New Hampshire (3-1) at Memorial Stadium.
“They’re probably very similar to the way a lot of the Ivy teams play,” sophomore midfielder Chloe Keating said of the weekend’s opponents. “They’re a little more physical, which is good for us before we get to Ivy play.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE 3, HARVARD 2
On Sunday, despite two goals from senior forward Tami Jafar, Harvard fell to New Hampshire. After the Crimson took a 1-0 lead into halftime, the Wildcats responded and rolled off three straight goals. Harvard did its best to come back, cutting the lead to one with 15 minutes to play, but New Hampshire held on for the win.
Jafar, who scored two goals for the third time in her career, put the Crimson on top early in the first half. Keating found Jafar at the top of the circle where the senior fired a shot past Wildcats goalkeeper Jenna Lehman.
The assist marked Keating’s second straight game with a point.
The lead lasted into the second half until New Hampshire back Brittany Jacobs tied the score at one. The Wildcats added two more goals within 14 minutes and extended the lead to 3-1.
Harvard answered on Jafar’s second goal. On a penalty corner with 15 minutes remaining, senior back Francine Polet took a shot that was blocked by Lehman. Jafar, however, got the rebound and buried it to cut the lead to one.
Ultimately, the Crimson could not overtake New Hampshire despite six second half penalty corners. Lehman withstood the attack, making three saves in the second half and securing the victory.
HARVARD 1, HOLY CROSS 0
The Crimson started the season off on the right foot with its 1-0 victory on Friday. Keating broke a scoreless tie midway through the second half when she tipped a shot past Crusaders goalkeeper Erin Singleton.
The opportunity came after sophomore forward Leigh McCoy drew a foul in the circle.
On the ensuing penalty corner, junior midfielder Kristin Bannon found Polet who fired the shot that Keating deflected in. It was the team’s first goal of the season for a squad that many hope will be able to realize its promise.
Keating’s score was enough of a cushion for co-captain senior goalie Kylie Stone, who shined on the other end of the field. Stone notched four saves en route to her third career shutout.
“It pretty much went exactly how our coach designed it,” Keating said. “We’ve been practicing corners a lot since a lot of our offense came from corners last season.”
The game was close throughout and scoreless in the first half. At halftime, Harvard led 6-3 in shots but did not challenge Singleton to come up with any additional saves.
The Crimson’s best chance came when Jafar streaked across the crease and ripped a shot that was out of Singleton’s reach but bounced off of the left post.
Harvard’s other near miss came moments after it took the lead. On another corner, the ball found its way to freshman midfielder Carly Dickson who ripped a shot that was just kicked wide by Singleton.
Despite the close score, the Crimson finished with a wide edge in shots, 11-5, and corners, 9-0.
—Staff writer Timothy J. Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.