The Harvard women’s field hockey team lost for the second time in double overtime, this time to Ivy League rival Brown (2-6, 1-2 Ivy) on Saturday at Warner Roof. Despite a huge Crimson comeback in the second half, where Harvard (3-6, 1-2 Ivy) evened the score at two all, the Bears’ junior Abigail Taft sealed the victory with a game winner in the 98th minute.
“It was definitely a hard loss,” sophomore goalie Cynthia Tassopoulos said. “But we played very well today because [although] they scored two goals on us in the first half, we were able to come back and really push through [while] still playing a really aggressive style.”
Taft was solid all game, scoring her first goal 18 minutes into the contest to give Brown the lead in the first half. But it was her second goal that was the deciding factor; in the 98th minute, Taft received a pass from sophomore teammate Kelly Harrison and put the ball into the back of the Crimson net. The game was just three minutes shy of going into penalty strokes.
“They got a fast break away,” sophomore Kim Goh said. “There was a little bit of a breakdown in front of our goal. A lot of the people on the team thought that there were a flurry of fouls, but you play the game with what you are given.”
While Harvard started off the game strong, outshooting the Bears, 4-3, in the first half, the offense was not able to capitalize on those opportunities, only forcing junior goalie Lauren Kessler to make one save on net. Instead, Brown took advantage of the counterattack chances created by the Crimson offense, and scored twice within the span of four minutes.
After Taft produced her first goal through a penalty corner, redirecting senior Katie Hyland’s shot from the top of the circle into the back of the net, the Bears got another score in a goal-line scramble.
This time, Brown senior Tacy Zysk took a deflection and put the ball into the right side of the Harvard net, giving the Bears a 2-0 lead.
“The two goals that happened off penalty corners were a wake-up call,” Tassopoulos said. “At halftime, we really wanted to focus on getting aggressive and digging ourselves out of a hole.”
The Crimson came out in the second half with cleaner passes and better shot selection, producing two goals of its own in the span of three minutes. Harvard outshot Brown, 8-6, in the second half, with its first goal coming in the 16th minute of the half from sophomore Katelin Wahl, who got the rebound from a blocked shot and put the Crimson on the board, 2-1.
Just three minutes later, Harvard took advantage of a defensive lapse by the Bears and scored on a three-on-one break. Junior captain Carly Dixon led the break with a shot on goal, which was deflected by Kessler. Senior Chloe Keating buried the rebound to score a team-high fifth goal of the season, evening the score at 2-2.
Just as Brown did in the first half, the Crimson cooled down after the second score. The game became a defensive struggle for the rest of the second half and the first overtime.
“Our defense is one of our strongest points,” Goh said. “We have really solid players and a really good understanding of what we need to do in order to be successful either in counter attacking or supporting each other around the ball. We were working as a defensive unit, and that was definitely one of the things that helped us back in the second half. Disciplined defense and knowledge of the structure.”
Harvard produced the first three shots of the first overtime but failed to score. Brown then responded with four consecutive shots, forcing Tassopoulos to make three saves.
“Overtime is very hard,” Tassopoulos said. “You are playing six-on-six on a full field; it’s kind of like whoever can get a breakaway or a good shot. We had some chances, which were good, but their goalie played outstanding. When you play second overtime, everyone is tired and putting their all into it.”
Heading into the second extra period, the weary Crimson nevertheless put up a string of good runs, forcing three penalty corners that produced two shots on goal. But in the end, it was Taft’s shot that ended the game, and resulted in another heart-breaking defeat for Harvard.
—Staff writer James Yu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.