Women's Lacrosse Loses to Northwestern, 16-3
The Harvard women’s lacrosse team was overrun by No. 4 Northwestern, 16-3, Saturday during the program’s first trip to Lakeside Field.
Despite quickly falling behind to the Wildcats (7-1, 2-0 ALC) in the first half off five unanswered opponent goals, the Crimson (0-4, 0-2 Ivy) returned at the beginning of the second half with two quick goals from captain Micaela Cyr to bring the score to 7-3.
Ultimately, Harvard players faltered against tough Northwestern defensewomen and the Crimson was unable to get on the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
“We played well in defense and made defensive stands and got the ground balls,” Cyr said. “We just couldn’t get it to our offense.”
Freshman attack Audrey Todd led the team with three ground balls. Todd had previously recorded three goals in Harvard’s two last outings.
Northwestern closed strong as standout senior Erin Fitzgerald scored her fourth, fifth and sixth goals of the game in under three minutes to put away the contest.
Harvard was only able to get 11 shots off during the game, compared to the Wildcats’ 38. The three goals surrendered by Northwestern are their lowest since Penn State was also held to three in May 2011.
“[It] was really just the play in the middle of the field,” Cyr added. “We had a lot of difficulty clearing the ball.”
Harvard has now started the season with four losses and has only scored a total of eight goals in its last two games.
Northwestern proved too powerful for the Harvard team, with pressure all over the field being the key factor.
“I think that we did a good job being aggressive all over the field and that was something that we really worked on since our last game,” said Northwestern assistant coach Danielle Spencer. “We did a good job of really having pressure on the Harvard players at all times and I think that was a key for us.”
The Crimson was 2-1 against the Wildcats in previous meetings, emerging victorious in the last confrontation in 2003. Since then though, Northwestern has become the team to beat in women’s lacrosse. Formerly a two-time national champion at Maryland, Kelly Hiller took over as head coach when the sport was made varsity again in 2002. In a very short space of time, Hiller manufactured a championship-winning program.
Since 2005, the Wildcats have appeared in every national championship final, losing only in 2010. That run included two undefeated seasons in 2005 and 2009. Northwestern appears to be competitive again this year, with its only loss coming away at then-No. 5 North Carolina.
Leading the team is All-American Fitzgerald. She had scored five goals on five separate occasions prior to Saturday, but in a dominant performance went one better Saturday, putting six past Crimson goaltender Melanie Cook. After only eight games, she already has twenty-eight goals for the season, only three less than the entire Harvard squad has scored so far.
“[Fitzgerald] has been playing really well as of late and we’re just letting her keep rolling with it,” Lewis said. “She’s been a threat all over the field. She’s been hustling [and] she’s been working very hard in the practice setting and her hard work in the practice setting is showing in the games.”
Looking ahead for Harvard, there are games this week away at Marquette on Tuesday followed by a home fixture against Ancient Eight rival Yale.
It has only been four games and there is still plenty of the season left, but the team has suffered from a lack of offensive production thus far.
“We’ll keep trying, we’ll keep practicing hard,” Cyr said. “We can turn it around.”