For the entire first half, it looked like Harvard had Penn under control. It had patiently held off a strong Quaker offensive in the first half, survived three penalty corners in a row, and shifted the momentum in its favor. When sophomore Allie Kimmel scored at 27:08, it appeared that Crimson had stifled a Penn team and was about to send the Quakers to their fourth straight loss.
But Harvard was unprepared for the revitalized squad that took the field in the second half, as Penn rallied to a 4-1 victory at Jordan Field on Saturday.
“They totally had to wake up,” Penn coach Val Cloud said of her squad. “They played half asleep the first half so we really just told them, you know, if you want to lose again, you play like you are. If you want to win, you pick it up.”
And pick it up they did, scoring two goals in a minute to shift the scoreboard in their favor.
Both of these goals came on cross-field passes. On the first, Annie Matthews drove down the left side of the field, drew Harvard goalie Cynthia Tassopoulos, and passed to Sarah Hasson, who flicked it in.
Tassopoulos made a big kick save on the fast break that followed, but Penn kept charging into the Crimson’s zone, with Sarah Hasson tipping in her second goal off a pass from Katie Rose. Hasson earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for her effort.
While Cloud saw these goals as a sign that her team had found its fire, Harvard coach Sue Caples had a different take after seeing her young squad lose the composure that had defined it in the first half.
“I think the first half, and certainly the first 15-20 minutes, we had very good momentum, and we were patient, and we were moving the ball,” Caples said. “[But] we didn’t have enough to show on the scoreboard for it, and we needed to remain patient, and I think we allowed Penn to get in the game and settle.”
Caples added of the back-and-forth contest, “We knew that scoring one goal was not going to be enough.”
Despite being down 2-1, Harvard was able to regain control over possession but kept coming up short at the goal line. Quaker goalie Kieran Sweeney came up with big saves on a penalty corner and on a diving shot by junior Chloe Keating. But with Keating and sophomore Carly Dickson moving the ball up the field, the Crimson began to gain momentum,
That is, until Cloud called another timeout.
“I noticed that Keating was now the center forward, and I wanted to make sure [my players] saw that she was there, and I put one of my good kids on her so that she wouldn’t be able to just do what she wanted with the ball,” Cloud said.
By shutting down the Crimson’s star forward, Cloud was able to trigger a change in her offense, and the Quakers scored shortly after the timeout.
That goal proved to be the back-breaker for Harvard. The Crimson was playing with just two subs, and it struggled to get back on defense and run the field. And with Keating hounded for much of the second half, the offense lacked its spark.
“[Keating] creates goal-scoring opportunities,” Caples said. “I’d target her too—she’s a great goal scorer.”
It was a Keating offensive drive that led to Harvard’s first-half tally. Keating ran the ball up the left side of the field and fired it into the middle, where a diving Emma Keller fired the ball past Sweeney to an open Kimmel, who buried the uncontested shot.
“I think we played a tough game,” said Keller, whose hustle throughout the day was a bright spot for the Crimson.
Keller—along with classmate Tassopoulos and sophomores Kimmel and Dickson—are part of a young corps that has been forced to step up early.
“With a young team and an Ivy game, we will be better for this experience,” Caples said. “Obviously a disappointing outcome for us today, and it’ll be a real tough test for the team how they step up, because they don’t get easier. The games do not get easier.”