The Harvard women’s lacrosse team’s quest for its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994 began Saturday afternoon, as the Crimson hung on for an 11-9 win over Boston University in its season opener at Soldiers Field Lacrosse Stadium.
Entering the season ranked in the top 20 for the first time in over a decade, the No. 19 Crimson (1-0) relied on its balanced offensive attack to nab the win. Six Crimson players found the back of the net with co-captain Melanie Baskind leading the way with three goals on three shots
Junior Jennifer VanderMeulen, the reigning Ivy League scoring champion, added three goals on six shots, while senior Jess Halpern chipped in with two goals.
The Terriers (0-2) were led by junior attacker Danielle Etrasco. Etrasco, who is coming off a stellar sophomore campaign in which she finished eighth in the nation in goals per game, notched three scores and three draw controls. But besides Estrasco, the Terriers struggled to find the back of the net, as the rest of squad shot a combined 6 of 20.
Despite leading for the game’s final 39:21, the Crimson never managed to pull away. The underdog Terriers never fell behind by more than three points.
“It wasn’t our best effort,” Harvard coach Lisa Miller said. “I thought BU played really hard.”
“It was definitely ugly,” Baskind echoed.
After junior Danielle Tetreault’s score with 16:43 to play put the Crimson ahead, 9-7, BU answered as Estrasco scored off a free-position shot to pull the visitors within one.
With less than 10 minutes to play and momentum on the Terriers’ side, BU won the draw control and set up its offense. The visitors passed the ball around the perimeter. But with 8:59 to go, Baskind picked off a Catie Tilton pass with one hand.
“I think [BU] misjudged how far away I was,” Baskind said. “I was surprised to see [the ball] in my stick.”
With the ball in her possession, Baskind pushed up the field, finding junior Micaela Cyr in transition. Cyr attacked the goal, drawing a foul on the Terriers’ Monica Baumgartner. The junior finished the ensuing free-position shot, putting the Crimson ahead by two with 8:54 to go.
Junior Danielle Tetreault won possession for the Crimson off the ensuing draw control, and Harvard elected to run the clock. After 90 seconds of working the ball around the perimeter, Tetreault attacked the goal and drew a foul but misfired on her free-position shot.
BU came up with possession and pushed it ahead to Etrasco, who drew a foul on sophomore Lauren Tomkinson in front of the net. Estrasco capitalized, beating rookie Kelly Weiss to pull the Terriers within one, 10-9 with 5:09 to play.
BU won the ensuing draw control, gaining possession and a chance to net the equalizer with just minutes remaining. The Terriers put the ball in Estasco’s stick, but the junior failed to step up in the clutch, turning the ball over with 4:08 to go. Tetreault picked up the ground ball, and the Crimson proceeded to milk the clock on the other end.
With less than 90 seconds to play, BU extended its defense in an attempt to cause a turnover, but the Crimson swung the ball to VanderMeulen, who broke down her defender and put the game away with a score with 1:12 to go.