Despite a stalwart defensive effort for much of the game, the Harvard field hockey team ultimately succumbed to constant pressure from Sacred Heart, falling, 2-1, in double-overtime to the Pioneers on Monday at Jordan Field.
Filling in for co-captain Cynthia Tassopoulos, junior goalie Jenn Hatfield made 15 saves, including seven in the first overtime period, but she could not keep out the final shot of the game, a pinpoint effort into the bottom right corner converted by Sacred Heart’s Liz Bergman off of a penalty corner.
“They were looking to attack the entire game, and our defense was very aware,” Hatfield said. “It speaks to the heart of our team that we could make such great recoveries even when we were dead tired in overtime.”
The Pioneers’ attacking initiative was evident in their 30-8 advantage in shots and 15-8 edge in penalty corners. Yet it looked as if the Crimson’s staunch defending, paired with an early second-half goal from junior back Caroline McNeil, would be enough to sneak out a victory.
The teams played to a scoreless stalemate in the first half, though Sacred Heart outshot Harvard, 20-6, and possessed the ball for large chunks of time on the attack.
But the Crimson opened the scoring six minutes into the second half after a positive stretch of offensive play. Sophomore Sydney Jenkins, whose speed bothered the Pioneers’ defenders on a number of occasions, received the ball after making a run down the left flank and darted into the circle between two defenders before finally winning a penalty corner. On the ensuing corner, junior Caitlin Rea dropped a nifty back pass to a wide open McNeill, who slapped the ball past Sacred Heart goalkeeper Mary Altepeter for a 1-0 lead.
But with five minutes remaining, the Pioneers’ sustained offensive effort finally paid off. Sacred Heart’s Lindsay Kasten found an empty pocket of space in the middle of the Harvard circle, and though Hatfield saved her initial effort, Kasten chipped her own rebound past the Crimson goalie to even the score and force the extra session.
In the first overtime, the Pioneers were decidedly the more attacking team, but Hatfield was again ready, at one point recording saves on three consecutive penalty corners. Harvard had two strong goal-scoring opportunities of its own; twice, the Crimson had a two-on-one opportunity on the attack, but the first was cancelled out by a sliding save from Altepeter, and the second was erased by a mishandled pass.