Despite a strong performance in the second half, the Harvard women’s field hockey team suffered a loss to Columbia at home on Saturday afternoon at Jordan Field. With the Lions (10-7, 3-4 Ivy) up, 3-0, in the first half, the Crimson (3-14, 1-6) bounced back ferociously in the second half but could not finish the comeback, losing to Columbia, 3-1. The loss marked the final game of the regular season and the final game for co-captain KJ Warren and fellow seniors Pilar Curtis and Chloe Keating.
“Columbia went up, 3-0, in the first half,” Harvard coach Sue Caples said, “and you can’t give a team a three-goal advantage. We were a little less than spectacular in the first half, but we had good energy and momentum in the second half. We just fell a little short.”
Harvard started the game with great control and took care of its possessions well. For the first 10 minutes of the match, the offense pinned down the Lions within their own circle. The Crimson had a great chance when freshman Christy Haughey made a pass right in front of the goal that went just wide of cutting sophomore Emma Keller.
But Columbia responded quickly to the emerging Harvard offense, and on a counterattack in the 13th minute, sophomore Gabby Kozlowski scored after collecting her own rebound from the post and shooting past sophomore Crimson goaltender Cynthia Tassopoulos. Kozlowski’s goal opened the flood gates, and just six minutes later Lions junior Carson Christus got a great pass from senior teammate Catlin Mullins and buried the ball into the Harvard net.
After Christus’ score, Columbia dominated possession and outshot Harvard, 11-1, in the first half. The Lions scored on a penalty corner shortly before the end of the half to increase the lead to 3-0.
The Crimson came out of halftime a completely different team. The offense made sharp passes into Columbia’s half and put the Lions on the defensive for most of the half. The defense also stepped up, making interceptions whenever Columbia attempted to counterattack. Harvard got on the board in the 58th minute following several close calls during a penalty corner. Keating took the pass from junior co-captain Carly Dickson and shot a bullet past Lions sophomore goalkeeper Christie O’Hara.
“We just went over what the game plan was and what we were trying to do,” Caples said about her team’s new-found energy. “[We discussed] our objectives with the ball in the backfield and the midfield and the attack and just reviewed it. [The girls just needed] a few reminders of what their roles and responsibilities are.”
From that point on, the match became a duel between the Crimson offense and Columbia’s defense, with the Lions holding on for the win. Harvard outshot Columbia, 9-5, in the second half with seven shots coming from penalty corners. O’Hara stepped up and made six saves, including several diving saves, to preserve the Lions’ lead and clinch the victory for Columbia.
“[O’Hara] was a big player for them,” Keating said, “especially the last 15 minutes of the second half. She really kept them in the game. We were really knocking on the door, but she proved to be kind of like a brick wall.”
Keating’s sixth goal of the season was also her 22nd-career goal, and she finishes her collegiate athletic career leading the team in points.
“It was bittersweet,” Keating said about her last game. “Everyone struggled with a lot of injuries all the way through, but we had a really great experience for the last four years. [We had] really great teammates, and my class is awesome. It was a really great four years.”
—Staff writer James Yu can be reached at email@example.com.