In a game full of whistles and penalties, both teams demonstrated their determination and aggression throughout the 60 minutes. Coming off two losses to No. 12 Boston University and Albany, Harvard (4-5, 1-1 Ivy) aimed to defeat the Bulldogs (2-9, 0-3 Ivy) for the first time in two years. Yale, too, came into the game ready to win after suffering a close loss to No. 19 Dartmouth the week before.
Led by senior Kaitlin Martin and sophomore Jess Halpern, the Crimson would dash Yale’s aspirations right from the start, outshooting the Bulldogs, 14-7, in the first half. Just 1:09 into the game, Halpern put the first of her three goals into the net, and her 30th goal of the season, behind Yale goaltender Whitney Quackenbush.
“It was amazing,” Halpern said of the win. “This was the first game that we all came together, all worked hard, did everything that our coach wanted, and it worked. Luckily we were able to win.”
Halpern, ranked fifth in the nation going into last week in goals per game (4.00), has tallied at least three goals in eight of Harvard’s last nine games this season and is riding a 20-game scoring streak.
Five minutes later, the Bulldogs rebutted with the help of Jessica Sturgill and Jenna Block, tying the game at one. As the rest of the period wore on, both teams found themselves chasing the ball and each other for a total of 13 minutes without any goals scored.
But that changed when the Crimson posted two goals within 17 seconds of each other. Freshman Katie Doherty scored with 7:13 left in the first half on a free position shot after a whistle on Yale. Martin then hurled the ball into the back of the net soon after, scoring her first of four goals to give Harvard a two-point lead.
Going into the last five minutes of the half, both teams seemed to be cautious with the ball, passing along the outside and waiting for the perfect opportunity. The Bulldogs’ Logan Greer found that opportunity with 3:31 left, scoring against freshman Kerry Clark, who notched five saves in the game.
But Harvard, unfazed, soon countered with its own goal by Martin with nine seconds left, giving the Crimson a 4-2 lead going into the second half.
“I think the games that we have been playing, we played in waves,” Harvard coach Lisa Miller said. “We wouldn’t play hard for 60 minutes, we would play hard for spurts, but then they would catch us in our down periods, or we would start slow or we would relax a little bit. [Today] they played as hard as they could for the whole game.”
As the second half began, Harvard’s defense and offense again came out strong. A little over a minute into the period, Halpern again scored, giving her team a comfortable lead at 5-2. Clark and the Crimson defense too provided the team’s backbone, deflecting two Yale shots in the first minutes of the second frame.
“I thought Kerry had huge saves when we really needed them; I thought Sam had a huge takeaway when we really needed one,” Miller said. “They played hard, which we need to do for the rest of the season.”
But, in typical Harvard-Yale fashion, the Crimson soon saw its lead diminish. In a 10-minute stretch, Yale scored three-straight goals to tie up the game with 17:57 left of play.
Martin, though, put Harvard back on top, taking a pass from junior Sara Flood and scoring her second goal with 10:23 on the clock. Outshooting Yale by a total of 23-17, and holding a 16-13 advantage in ground balls, the Crimson offense continued to attack. Two minutes later, Martin scored another goal.
“She’s our leading scorer,” Halpern said. “Without her, our offense would not do as well as it does. She scores, assists, she’s one of the leaders on the offensive end.”
Yale’s Sara David attempted to close the gap but Clark made a quick stick save.
Martin capitalized with less than three minutes left on her final shot, extending Harvard’s lead to 8-5.
“I was pleased with their effort,” Miller said. “They hustled, they tried to stay in structure the whole time, and they did little things right. You want to constantly work and work and focus on fundamentals and make good decisions, and I thought they did that for most of the game.”