When it rains, Harvard scores. At least that was the case on Saturday when, on a soggy Jordan Field, the Crimson matched a season-high in goals en route to defeating Brown (3-6, 0-3 Ivy) in overtime, 4-3.
Coming off a four-game losing streak, Harvard (4-4, 1-2 Ivy) entered the match searching for its first Ivy League victory. It seized the win with junior forward Chloe Keating’s stick 1:28 into sudden death.
After a Bears turnover, sophomore midfielder Carly Dickson sent a pass ahead to Keating, who had only one defender between her and the goal. Inside the circle, Keating feinted left, sprinted right, and fired a shot past Brown goalie Caroline Washburn.
“I basically closed my eyes and swung away at it,” Keating said.
“What a beautiful goal to finish it on,” Crimson head coach Sue Caples said.
Keating’s tally capped off a wet and wild afternoon in which goals came early and often.
The scoring started eight minutes into the action after Harvard earned a penalty corner. Co-captain Kristen Bannon sent a pass to the top of the circle, which was then shuffled off to Dickson on the right wing. Dickson ripped a shot past Washburn into the lower right corner of the goal to give the Crimson an early lead.
“One of our major gameplans is to force as many corners as possible,” said Keating, “and we’re usually pretty good at finishing them.”
Minutes later, Harvard had another chance to get on the board. An infraction on a scrum in front of the Bears goal led to a penalty shot for the Crimson. Dickson took the shot and fired to Washburn’s glove side, but the Brown goalie swatted it away.
The Bears answered midway through the half with a deceptive play on a penalty corner of its own. After Brown forward Leslie Springmeyer sent a pass to teammate Michaela Seigo at the top of the circle, Seigo passed the ball to her left. Bears midfielder Katie Hyland stepped up and took a powerful swing at the ball but purposefully missed so that the pass rolled to Brown midfielder Whitney Knowlton. With the Harvard defense caught by surprise, Knowlton fired a shot into the back of the net to tie the game.
The Crimson reclaimed the lead 21 seconds later. After Dickson found Keating in the middle of the circle, Keating spun around and took a reverse shot at the left post. Sophomore forward Allie Kimmel swooped in and redirected Keating’s shot into the goal to make the score 2-1 going into the half.
“A lot of our shots on goal, seemed to be generated from the midfield, from Carly, and from corners,” Caples said.
The most influential factor might not have been any player but the weather itself. Steady rains soaked Jordan field and formed puddles along both sidelines. This drainage was a headache for Brown and Harvard and forced them to alter their tactics.
“The weather conditions played a factor for both teams,” Caples said. “It limited our ability to move the ball quickly and our speed, so we had to go to a small, tactical game.”
Despite these challenges, ten minutes into the second half, the Crimson extended its lead. This time, Bannon sent a through ball from the left wing into the circle for Keating. Keating gathered the pass and slipped a shot past Washburn for the first of her two scores on the day.
The Bears battled back. One minute after Harvard scored, Brown notched a goal on a deflection off a penalty corner. Then, with ten minutes left in regulation, a one-timer from Bears forward Abigail Taft tied the score and sent the game into overtime.
“Brown, to their credit, they were relentless,” Caples said. “They [scored] good goals. It’s a game of inches, and they just tucked them in.”
In overtime, the game suddenly ended when Keating converted on the counterattack. The game-winning goal, Keating’s second of the day, was her team-leading eighth score of the season.
“It was really exciting to pull in our first win in quite some time,” Keating said. “It was especially exciting winning in overtime. I think this will be a nice turnaround point in our season.”
—Staff writer Timothy J. Walsh can be reached at email@example.com.