After a rough start to a season that launched with high expectations, the Harvard women’s lacrosse team appears to be turning a corner.
The Crimson (4-4, 1-2 Ivy) put together its first winning streak of the 2012 season, downing Stanford, 10-4, Wednesday afternoon at Harvard Stadium for its second straight victory.
Harvard, which saw another standout performance from rookie goalkeeper Kelly Weiss (eight saves, four goals allowed), dominated from start to finish, taking an early 3-0 lead before going up by as many as nine in the second half. And if it hadn’t been for three Cardinal (2-6) goals in the final four minutes of play with the game’s outcome already well decided, it would have been the Crimson’s most dominant defensive performance since blanking Boston University, 11-0, in 2002.
“Another good defensive effort,” said Harvard coach Lisa Miller, whose squad has held its opponent to single digits for the fourth straight game. “[The defense] limited the shots on Kelly, and when the shots did come, Kelly made saves.”
Weiss, who has started in net for the Crimson since day one, finished with more saves than goals allowed for the third straight game. Weiss entered Wednesday’s contest ranked 24th in the nation in save percentage.
“She’s been a huge bonus,” Miller said. “She has all the things that you want from a goalkeeper that’s capable of taking you into [the] championships.”
“She’s been playing huge,” added junior midfielder Danielle Tetreault, who finished with one goal and three draw controls. “She’s really helping our defense and coming up with saves in times of need.”
On offense the Crimson was led by junior attacker Jennifer VanderMeulen who finished with a season-high four goals. After leading the Ivy League in scoring in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, VanderMeulen has struggled finding the back of the net in 2012, scoring just seven goals in the Crimson’s first seven games.
But on Wednesday, the VanderMeulen of old returned, scoring a game-high four times on five shots.
Five other Harvard players found the back of the net, taking advantage of Stanford keeper Lyndsey Munoz, who stopped just three of the 13 shots she faced.
VanderMeulen gave the Crimson an early lead, capitalizing on a free-position shot 2:45 into play. Tetreault posted her 12th goal of the year less than two minutes later, and VanderMeulen followed with her second score to put the Crimson ahead, 3-0, less than five minutes into play.
“We played really well in spurts,” Miller said. “I thought we got off to a really quick start.”
Harvard’s lead only grew from there. After 20 minutes of scoreless play, junior attacker Micaela Cyr tacked on the Crimson’s fourth score. The junior broke free from her defender and cut to the front of the net where she received a pass from sophomore Jenn Leffew and flung the ball past Munoz.
Leffew added one more score before the end of the period, taking a pass from co-captain Melanie Baskind behind the cage and curling around the goal before firing the ball into the net.
Leffew’s score, her third of the year, put the Crimson ahead, 5-0, heading into the break. Baskind connected with Leffew again less than four minutes into the second frame, this time finding the sophomore open in front of the net. Leffew took the pass and finished to give Harvard a 6-0 lead.