On a day when Crimson coach Sue Caples was honored along with her 1981 teammates at UMass, her alma mater got the better of her current team of 24 years, as Harvard (2-1) fell, 3-0, to the Minutewomen (2-3) in their home opener.
Caples, an All-American at UMass, captained the Minutewomen to the 1981 NCAA Championship game, collecting All-Tournament honors along the way. Since becoming Harvard’s head coach in 1988, the Crimson has been 5-8 against her former squad.
“It’s great seeing how what Coach Caples and her teammates accomplished 30 years ago is still reverberating today,” junior midfielder Kim Goh said. “What they did is what we want to create here, so we definitely have a lot of respect for them.”
The ceremony aside, Caples tried to ensure that her players focus remained on the task at hand.
“She’s very adamant that our pregame is as focused as possible,” Goh said. “She really tried to keep it the same as every game.”
UMass did not wait around before trying to emulate Caples and her former teammates, going up, 2-0, in the first 16 minutes of regulation on goals from junior forwards Kim Young and Nicole Cordero.
Young’s effort was unassisted while Cordero scored off a long lead pass from sophomore teammate Alyssa Ineson.
It was the second goal of the season for both Young and Cordero.
Senior midfielder Nikki Panciocco added a third goal early in the second half to seal the deal.
A stifling defensive effort by the Minutewomen limited Harvard to only two shots on goal.
“They were a very strong, physical team,” junior goalie Cynthia Tassopoulos said. “They were able to get to the ball before us and they really stepped up to defend and prevent our shots from getting off.”
Despite the loss, Tassopoulos continued her stellar play in this young season, recording 13 saves to give her 26 on the year.
She currently has a save percentage of .839, compared to her .725 mark from last season.
“If there is any reason for my improved play I would have to say it is my team mates,” Tassopoulos said. “We have got a lot of good freshmen who have really integrated into the team, and we are just challenging and pushing each other every day at practice.”
Sophomore Carly McNeill also added a defensive save, just the second of her young career.