The timing couldn’t have been much better. In its biggest game of the season so far, the Harvard women’s lacrosse team turned in its best performance.
Needing a victory to keep alive any realistic hope of earning an Ivy League tournament berth, the Crimson bested its first ranked opponent this season, downing No. 18 Princeton, 10-7, on Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium.
With the win, the Crimson (7-6, 3-2 Ivy) moved into a tie with Princeton (6-6, 3-2) and Cornell (8-3, 3-2) for third place in the Ancient Eight standings with two conference matchups remaining. The league’s top four finishers will move on to the single-elimination Ivy League tournament, where the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament will be determined.
In last season’s Ivy League championship, the Crimson squandered a late second-half lead to the Tigers, falling 12-10. But in the teams’ first meeting since Harvard’s gut-wrenching loss, the Crimson got the upper hand.
After going into halftime tied 6-6, the Crimson controlled the second frame, outscoring the Tigers, 4-1, to grab the three-goal win, its largest over Princeton since 1992.
“We finally put together two halves that we are very proud of,” said junior midfielder Danielle Tetreault, who finished with a game-high and her season-high four goals. “We played well on offense and on defense, and that’s what you need to do to put a whole lacrosse game together.”
After connecting on just one of nine shot attempts in the Crimson’s 10-4 win over Holy Cross on Wednesday, Tetreault had it going all game on Saturday. The junior finished four of her seven attempts and notched Harvard’s first and last goals.
“She had a rough night on Wednesday,” Harvard coach Lisa Miller said. “I thought she moved the goalie and placed [her shot] a little bit better [Saturday].”
“Coach just tells me to keep shooting,” said Tetreault, who leads the Crimson with 23 goals this season. “Sometimes you aren’t on, something isn’t going right, but you’ve got to keep shooting to put points up, so I kept going to goal.”
Tetreault went to goal early and often on Saturday. The midfielder opened the scoring 80 seconds into play, faking inside then going left and firing a shot into the bottom-left corner of the goal to put Harvard ahead, 1-0. Following scores from junior attacker Jennifer VanderMeulen and sophomore midfielder Kyleigh Keating, Tetreault struck again. With 17:05 to play, the Crimson got the ball to Tetreault in isolation on the right side of the field. After faking middle, the junior went right and sent a low shot past Princeton goalie Annie Woehling to put Harvard ahead, 4-1.
But the Tigers answered with a 3-0 run in a five-minute stretch midway through the first frame to even the score at four. Senior midfielder Cassie Pyle, who finished with a team-high three goals, sparked the run with a free-position score that was followed by goals from Erin McMunn and Erin Slifer.
Less than 45 seconds later, the Crimson was back up by two.
Following Slifer’s score, Harvard took the ensuing draw control, and junior midfielder Mariel Jenkins went the length of the field and finished her first goal of the season.
VanderMeulen followed with her second score of the afternoon 24 seconds later, cutting in front of the goal and finishing a pass from Keating.
The Tigers tacked on two more scores, and Woehling (10 goals allowed, eight saves) denied two bids from co-captain Melanie Baskind and one from Tetreault before the end of the period, and the squads went into the break knotted at six goals.
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