After coming up one goal short against both No. 6 Penn and No. 8 Stanford, the young Harvard women’s lacrosse team was still looking for its first signature victory of the season heading into yesterday’s matchup against Johns Hopkins.
An 8-1 run to close out the first and finish the second half gave Harvard what it was searching for and secured a victory over the visiting Blue Jays at Harvard Stadium.
The Crimson’s (2-3, 1-1 Ivy) 12-8 comeback win against the well-respected visitors marked a turning point as Harvard deals with one of the toughest schedules in the country.
“We’ve been very competitive all season long, but I told them at halftime, we have to compete to win, not just compete to compete,” Crimson coach Lisa Miller said.
Following a late counterattack goal by Johns Hopkin’s Sarah Taylor, junior tri-captain Melanie Baskind sparked the run with seven seconds left in the first half, scoring off a free-position shot to make the game, 7-5, heading into the break. Baskind would score again in the second half to move her season point total to 11.
Coming out of the break, the hosts kept momentum on their side, rattling off a 7-1 run to close the match.
In contrast to the Harvard-dominated second half, the opening period was a back-and-forth affair. Sophomore attacker Jenn VanderMeulen notched two first-half goals, giving her a team-leading 13 goals on the season. Blue Jays attacker Taylor D’Amore put two in the back of the net as well, including one off a beautiful one-timer assist from Rachel Ballatori.
Junior goalie Kerry Clark kept the Crimson in the game in the first half, only allowing Johns Hopkins to succeed on two of its five free-position shots while notching six saves. With the game in striking distance, Harvard to maintained its confidence and came out of the break with a dominating attack, led by junior Jess Halpern—who finished with a game-high four goals.
“We kept possession of the ball, and it gave everyone more options,” Halpern said. “We spread the defense out and made a lot of space for one another, and I was just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.”
What Baskind started at the end of the first half turned into four unanswered goals for the Crimson, as Halpern, VanderMeulen and junior Tyler Petropoulos also chipped in to put Harvard ahead, 8-7.
The Blue Jays did not stop the drought until D’Amore scored with 18:10 left in the game to tie it up.
Halpern responded with two goals in less than three minutes, both unassisted and off quick drives coming from the right of the net, putting the Crimson ahead for good.
“I knew they could do it,” Miller said. “They’ve worked hard and they really take care of each other. I’m really happy for them. I’ve had young and talented teams like this before, and it’s great to see things click.”
After Halpern’s goal with 11:40 left, both goalies exchanged big stops, before Harvard instituted a clock-killing offense.
Winning possession with 7:09 left, the Crimson passed the ball around the attacking third before finally getting Baskind open one-on-one with the goalie for a game-sealing goal with 4:09 to go.
An important draw control secured by sophomore Micaela Cyr following the goal allowed Harvard to continue to kill the clock, as the Johns Hopkins defenders hopelessly chased the ball. The victory already in hand, freshman Chelsey Newman knocked one into an open goal with 1:49 left on the clock.
“It felt really good finally getting over the hump,” Halpern said. “We all felt we could have beaten Stanford and Penn, and now, moving into the Ivy season with some momentum, we’re all really excited.”