But the Crimson hasn’t needed those excuses. Instead, Harvard (2-0) recorded its second straight win last night, defeating UC Davis (3-2), 4-1, at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
“I thought that we played well,” junior Chloe Keating said. “We had a lot of offensive opportunities. It’s tougher playing a Wednesday game. It was our first night game, so it was nice to get acclimated to that…and it was great to win our first night game.”
The Crimson was led once again by Keating’s outstanding play. After a five-point effort Saturday against Holy Cross, the forward had a hand in all four Harvard goals last night, scoring twice and assisting on two others.
The Crimson offense had no trouble getting things started against the Aggies, who are fielding their first intercollegiate team since 1982. Harvard took control at the opening whistle and peppered UC Davis keeper Lauren Sawvelle with 10 shots and five penalty corners in the first seven minutes of play.
“We did a really good job of capitalizing on our offense in the first half,” co-captain Elizabeth Goodman-Bacon said. “We generated a lot of offense early on…which gave us a lot of opportunities to score.”
Keating was the first one to get the ball in the cage, taking a pass from sophomore Carly Dickson in the eighth minute. Keating reverse chipped the ball over Sawvelle and into the top right corner.
The Crimson continued to pressure the Aggie defense, amassing a 16-2 edge in shots during the first half. Keating took advantage of her opportunities again with nine minutes remaining in the opening period, as sophomore Georgia McGillivray sent in a shot off a corner, and Keating deflected it in for her second goal of the night and a 2-0 Harvard lead.
“Chloe did a really great job of capitalizing on our attack,” Goodman-Bacon said. “She took some great shots from the top of the circle, and she did a really great job of being tenacious in the circle so we could get some shots on goal.”
McGillivray nearly notched a tally of her own at 28:47, but the shot ricocheted off the crossbar and out of play.
Harvard continued its onslaught in the opening minutes of the second half, but this time, it was freshman Emma Keller who found the back of the net.
Keating took a pass from Dickson off a restart, and streaked toward the net alongside Keller. As Sawvelle came out of the cage to challenge Keating, she passed the ball off to the rookie, who tipped it in for the 3-0 lead.
Just eight minutes later, Keating and Keller connected again. The junior dribbled into the circle and lifted the ball in the air, setting Keller up to bat it into the cage.
“Obviously, Emma has been doing a really great job finishing,” Keating said. “She hasn’t shown any type of inexperience, she really has jumped on the field as a freshman. We’re really excited to have her on the forward line.”
UC Davis continued to fight for its opportunities, finally getting on the board with under eight minutes to play. Ellre Ancheta fed the ball to Lindsey Valadez off a penalty corner, and Valadez beat Crimson keeper Cynthia Tassapoulous to make the score 4-1.
Tassapoulous had five saves on the evening, four of which came in the second half, which saw the Aggies take an 8-6 advantage in shots.
“Cynthia is playing really well,” Goodman-Bacon said. “She’s communicating very well, which is great for our defense.”
It is the first time since 2005 that Harvard has opened the season with back-to-back wins, a fact that could be attributed to the team’s offseason training regimen.
“A lot of us played together over the summer and worked out here, which was helpful in terms of being in a rhythm,” Keating said. “A lot of our players came in in really good physical shape. It’s been really good for our offense.”
—Staff writer Kate Leist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.