The talent, it seems, is there for the Harvard women’s lacrosse team. The consistency, however, is still a work in progress.
Taking on No. 2 Syracuse Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., the Crimson hung with its opponent for the second half, matching Syracuse, 4-4, in the frame.
But Harvard (4-5, 1-2 Ivy) was unable to recover from an early first-half deficit, falling to the Orange, 10-6.
“We played well in moments,” said co-captain Melanie Baskind, whose squad trailed Syracuse 6-2 at halftime. “They’re the No. 2 team in the country, and we proved we can play with them.”
While the Crimson struggled finding the back of the net—Harvard’s six goals matched its second lowest offensive output of the year—Baskind shined individually, totaling three goals on eight shots and two assists.
“Syracuse had a solid defense, but Mel challenged, and she found great opportunities, and she finished on them,” co-captain Ellen Gleason said. “That’s exactly what we needed.”
But Baskind’s strong offensive performance was not enough for the Crimson to overcome a talented Orange (6-2, 1-0 Big East) squad currently riding a five-game winning streak.
Syracuse, which received a game-high four scores from Alyssa Murray and three from Katie Webster, used its speed and transition offense to take control of the contest.
“I think what really stood out with them that we haven’t seen so much in other teams was how effective they are in transition,” Baskind said. “The speed at which they were moving the ball and connecting with each other, I don’t think we’ve seen that from a team yet this season.”
While the Crimson adjusted to the heightened pace, Syracuse took advantage, grabbing the 1-0 lead off a Sarah Holden score 5:17 into play. Harvard sophomore Jenn Leffew answered with a goal off a pass from Baskind to even the game at 1-1.
But the Orange responded with a 5-0 run over a 10:06 stretch to take a commanding 6-1 lead with 3:06 to play. Murray and Webster fueled the Syracuse run with a combined three goals and an assist.
Taking it to the net on her own, Murray scored the visitors’ second goal, and Webster followed 63 seconds later with her second score of the afternoon. Murray found Kailah Kempney for her first goal with 6:23 to play to put Syracuse up, 4-1.
Webster and Becca Block each beat freshman goalkeeper Kelly Weiss (seven saves, 10 goals allowed) over the next three minutes.
“[Syracuse’s transition play] was something we struggled with in the first half,” Baskind said.
Sophomore attacker Chelsey Newman put an end to the Orange run with a score 18 seconds before the end of the period to pull the Crimson within four, 6-2, heading into the break.