The Harvard field hockey team had its hands full last night at Jordan Field, as it faced off against the No. 10 Massachusetts Minutewomen (9-3). Though the Crimson (4-5, 1-2 Ivy) played well and freshman goaltender Cynthia Tassopoulos dazzled, UMass snuck away with a 1-0 victory.
“It was a great hockey game,” Harvard coach Sue Caples said. “We played very hard for 70 minutes, and did some really great things out there. [It was] a tremendous effort—just a complete game physically and mentally.”
The Crimson may have lost the contest, but according to the team and coach, the effort was not a disappointing one. Harvard showed defensive solidarity against a stronger opponent.
Still, it was evident in the first half which team was controlling the game. The Minutewomen had the majority of the possession and earned several penalty corners.
Despite coming close on numerous shots, Massachusetts could not get the ball past Tassopoulos, who made some swift pad and stick saves between the pipes.
“[Tassopoulos] was awesome,” co-captain Kristin Bannon said. “She did a great job today organizing the defense. She made some really clutch saves and really communicated to her defense.”
The freshman began the game ranked 14th in the nation with 7.13 saves per game. Her 12 stops last night will move her even further up the rankings.
“[Tassopoulos] made some great saves and even made them look easy,” Caples said. “She really had good control and command of the circle.”
Toward the end of the first half, the Minutewomen continued to show poise, and Makaela Potts created some dangerous attacking chances. With 10 minutes remaining in the period, Potts possessed the ball in midfield, beat a Crimson defender, and raced toward goal. She then dished to forward Katie Kelly, whose flick of the ball went just over the net.
Kelly had another opportunity with seven minutes left in the half. Outside the Harvard circle, she accelerated past one defender and powered through another, drawing a penalty corner.
On that corner, Tassopoulos made a quick pad save, but the rebound fell right to a Minutewoman. A Crimson defender blocked the ensuing shot with her foot, resulting in a penalty stroke. Potts converted the penalty shot to put UMass up 1-0.
The score would remain 1-0 for the remainder of the game as the Minutewomen failed to convert on additional opportunities and penalty corners.
“I think we did a really great job defending the penalty corner,” Caples said. “I don’t think we gave them too many second chance opportunities. They scored on a penalty stroke so you know we didn’t give up any field goals which is great.”
Harvard was unable to tally an equalizer and did not show too much offensively in the first half. But the opportunities picked up somewhat after the break.
“We did better in the second half, outletting and working the ball up through our midfield,” Caples said. “We didn’t have a lot inside our attack one-third. We need to work at a more sustained attack and creating more high percentage goal scoring opportunities.”
Crimson junior Chloe Keating, who leads the team with 21 points (eight goals and five assists) was held in check yesterday. UMass ended up outshooting Harvard 21-8.
“I think UMass is a very respectable team,” Bannon said. “I think everyone came to play today and we had a great defensive game.”
Harvard will return to the field this Saturday when it hosts Michigan.
—Staff writer Jake I. Fisher can be reached at email@example.com.