The Harvard women’s lacrosse team took control of its midweek contest right from the get-go, starting the game with five unanswered goals on the way to a commanding victory over Holy Cross, 10-4, Wednesday night at Harvard Stadium. Co-captain Melanie Baskind led a balanced offensive effort for the Crimson, tallying her fourth hattrick of the season and 12th of her career.
Harvard entered Wednesday night’s game on the tail of its best offensive mark of the season—16 goals in a win over Brown on Saturday. But despite six different players getting on the scoreboard, the Harvard team saw a lot of room for improvement.
“This wasn’t our best performance,” said junior attacker Jennifer VanderMeulen, who scored two goals for the Crimson. “We didn’t capitalize on the little things. We had some turnovers and weren’t finishing our shots. Holy Cross is a good team. We really wanted to come out with a strong win but ended up beating ourselves in a lot of aspects.”
With the win over the Crusaders (6-7, 2-2 Patriot League), Harvard (6-6, 2-2 Ivy) improved to .500 on the season and gained momentum as it heads into its final stretch of conference games.
Harvard outshot Holy Cross, 19-4, in the first half.
Baskind put the Crimson on the board first when she slid a shot past Holy Cross goalie Sarah Weber just over three minutes into the contest.
Harvard then proceeded to work the ball around but failed to finish off a number of attacks with shots bouncing wide of the net.
“We have been focusing a lot this year on possession,” VanderMeulen said. “When we have the ball, the other team obviously can’t score. We have been working on having the ball, possessing the ball, and taking quality shots. We did get off quality shots; we just weren’t able to finish them.”
Crimson sophomore Chelsey Newman was able to break the scoring drought with 18:45 remaining in the first half. After Newman’s defender fell down, she crossed in front of the net and fired a shot past Weber’s left shoulder, giving Harvard a 2-0 advantage.
Junior Danielle Tetreault scored the next goal, finishing off a free position opportunity. Tetreault cut in between multiple defenders as she attacked the net and put one away on the top right side of the goal.
Freshman Jamie Potter was also able to capitalize on a free position with a score before Baskind added her second goal of the game. The latter gave Harvard a 5-0 lead with 8:17 left in the half.
Junior Maddie Carrellas broke the Crusaders shutout when she was able to cut in front of her defender from the right side of the field. The junior then ripped a shot past Crimson goalie Kelly Weis to close out halftime with Harvard up by four. But according to VanderMuelen, Harvard was not satisfied with its play in the first half.
“We were up, and you think you would be pleased with that, but we weren’t really playing our game,” VanderMeulen said. “We felt like we needed to step up on both sides of the field [in the second half].”
VanderMuelen and the Crimson did pick up their game after halftime. The junior attacker scored two goals in the first 4:30 of the frame.
“For me, I wasn’t shooting well [in the first half], and I knew it wasn’t helping my team at all,” VanderMeulen said. “I felt like I had to step up. I’m an attacker, and that’s what I do. I had to put the ball away.”
Harvard was able to stretch its lead to 9-1 before giving up three goals to the Crusaders in the final 10 minutes of the game.
“We are still trying to put 60 minutes together,” Baskind said. “We are shooting a lot more which is a good thing and is something we have been looking to do. But our shot placement is not there yet. We need to put these games away a lot earlier instead of making it interesting in the second half.”
The Crimson will get a chance to build on its two decisive victories when it takes on a strong Princeton team on Saturday at home.
“The focus is on Princeton now,” Baskind said. “Princeton is a great team. We are going to see their best, and we hope to give them ours.”
—Staff writer Cameron Dowd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.