With less than four minutes remaining in the match, junior midfielder Kyleigh Keating fed the ball to freshman attack Alexis Nicolia, who drilled into the back of the net, registering her fifth goal of the season-opening game. But in the final minutes of the match, the No. 17 Harvard women’s lacrosse team was unable to close its five-goal deficit and eventually fell to Stanford, 18-13, on the road on Sunday.
The Crimson (1-0) came out strong at the opening whistle, as Nicolia netted two quick goals in the opening half to earn a quick Harvard lead. The season-opener was the first match of Nicolia’s collegiate career.
“It was really nerve-racking,” Nicolia said. “We had a couple scrimmages, so I kind of just acted like it was a scrimmage so it wouldn’t get in my head too much…. I guess it worked.”
The Cardinal (1-1) answered with two goals, tying the score at 2-2 five minutes into the opening period.
“I think our biggest problem was our composure,” Nicolia said. “I think we got really nervous, and we let them get in our heads because they were really loud. It was our first game and we were on their field…. I think our composure fell a little bit.”
Junior midfielder Kasey Uhlenhuth regained the lead for the Crimson after registering a goal off of an assist from Keating in the 7th minute.
“We had a lot of assisted goals, which is something we’ve been working on the past few years actually,” captain midfielder Micaela Cyr said. “Most of our goals were off of assists, which was great, being able to work together and really connecting.”
Harvard then headed into a scoring drought while the Stanford offense recorded three consecutive goals, securing a two-goal lead at 5-3.
Freshman attack Audrey Todd scored off an assist from Cyr, her second assist of the match. Todd then netted a free position goal to even the score.
“I think we did come out strong, and I think we hustled a lot,” Nicolia said. “It was a very tiring game, and we were doing a lot of running. I think we did keep up with them most of the time, and our hustle was really high.”
With twelve minutes remaining in the first frame, Nicolia found the back of the net to bring the score to 6-5 in the Crimson’s favor. The Cardinal again tallied three consecutive goals to head into halftime leading, 8-6.
Stanford scored the first point of the second period after sophomore midfielder Rachel Hinds executed a free position goal. Keating answered with a goal of her own less than two minutes later, but Stanford executed its third three-goal streak of the game, grabbing a five-goal lead with the score at 12-7.
“One of the things we struggled with was turnovers,” Cyr said. “We had way too many turnovers, which is something we can definitely improve on, so we’ll definitely be working on that in practice.”
Cyr decreased the Crimson’s deficit to four points after senior midfielder Danielle Tetreault fed her a pass in the eighth minute. Stanford’s freshman Meg Lentz completed a hat trick less than a minute after Cyr’s goal, extending the Cardinal’s lead to 13-8.
“Especially in the second half, [Stanford was] able to control most of the draws, which made it hard to stop them,” Cyr said.