Northeastern junior Crystal Poland scored two goals in the first 15 minutes of the Harvard field hockey team’s midweek contest against the Huskies, helping her side to a 4-1 win and pushing her to No. 2 in the country in goals scored so far this season. After a scorching four-goal first half, No. 8 Northeastern (9-2, 2-1 CAA) was able to hold onto its lead and beat the Crimson (3-7, 1-2 Ivy) Wednesday night at Jordan Field.
“[The Huskies] obviously have some really talented players,” co-captain Kim Goh said. “Our game plan was adjusted to sort of compensate for that…but it took a little bit of flow to figure out how that was going to work on the field.”
Although the Crimson outshot the visitors, 15-14, and had seven penalty corners to the Huskies’ six, Harvard was unable to convert many of its chances.
Although the two teams were nearly even in several statistical categories, the first half of the game was a lopsided display, as Northeastern was able to keep the ball mainly on Harvard’s half of the field.
The Huskies started strong, scoring off of a penalty corner in the fourth minute of play. Poland was able to convert the first corner of the game, sending a shot into the cage off of an assist from teammates Lindsay Graham and Nicky Bennett.
“[Northeastern] came in ranked No. 8 and knew it,” Goh said. “We had the opportunity to upset them. But instead of looking at it that way, we thought of [the game] as a chance to play one of the best teams in the nation.”
The Huskies added to their tally eight minutes later off of another corner, with Kelly Dunn receiving the ball after a scrabble in the box and scooping it up into the top-left corner of the net.
The Huskies kept the pressure on the home team throughout the entire first half, outshooting their Crimson counterparts, 9-4.
“I think [Northeastern] did very well in stretching the field,” Harvard coach Tjerk van Herwaarden said. “They had a really good penalty corner, and were able to get into our box a little too often. Where they are, and where we’re not yet, is that they’re able to take very quick shots even from a difficult angle.”
Poland added her second goal off of another penalty corner in the fifteenth minute of the game, once again assisted by Bennett and Graham. Kate Carlson put in one more unassisted goal near the end of the half to put Harvard in a 4-0 hole heading into the break.
The penalty kill for Northeastern was lethal in the first half, with the away team scoring off of three of its four penalty corners.
“We gave up a few too many corners, and [the Huskies] were really able to use that against us,” Goh said .
The game was tipped on its head at the half, however, as Harvard came out and held the Huskies scoreless for the rest of the game, outshooting Northeastern, 11-5.
Early in the half, a through-pass to freshman Elizabeth Jacobson that split the Northeastern defense nearly made it 4-1 but the ball slipped just wide of the frame.
The Crimson was more effective on both offense and defense in the second half, pushing the ball farther up the field and keeping it out of its own defensive end.
With fifteen minutes left, the Crimson was rewarded with three successive penalty corners, all of which led to shots. Junior Bridget McGillivray was able to put two consecutive shots on goal.
The offensive momentum finally paid off when Harvard was awarded a penalty stroke with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. Goh was able to convert from the spot, pushing the Crimson back within three, 4-1.
“As a defender you don’t get a lot of chances to score,” Goh said. “I was happy that I was able to make it and put one on the board for us. We got a little bit of payoff for our hard work.”
But the attempt at a comeback was too little, too late, and the Huskies were able to close out the game without allowing another score despite Harvard’s impressive second-half performance.
“I think we showed up a little too late,” van Herwaarden said. “I think we were a little scared of playing the No. 8 team in the nation, but [at halftime] we were able to reiterate our plan for the game. I think we outplayed them in the second half because we were a little stronger. We outshot them and out-cornered them.”