Sophomore goalie Kelly Weis had the best performance of her career in net at Soldiers Field on Saturday for the Harvard women’s lacrosse team, and the offense made sure it didn’t go to waste. And then some.
After struggling on offense in last week’s lone contest against Penn, the Crimson (3-2, 1-1 Ivy) was firing on all cylinders in Cambridge this weekend against Marquette (3-4, 0-0 Big East). The offense exploded for 10 goals in the second half of its game against the Wisconsin-based school en route to handily defeating the Golden Eagles, 15-6.
“We definitely could have beat them by a lot more,” sophomore attacker Meghan Bauer said. “But we came out with a win and I think it was a good warm-up for playing [No. 3] Syracuse on Tuesday.”
Coming into the second half with a three-goal advantage, Harvard freshman Marisa Romeo was able to maneuver down the middle of the Marquette defense, finishing by beating the goalie over the left shoulder to extend the Crimson lead to four. Two more straight goals in the next four minutes from Harvard brought its lead to six. The deficit was simply too great for the Golden Eagles to fly out of.
Marquette’s difficulties on offense did not arise from a lack of opportunity. The Golden Eagles were able to fire 25 shots on the day and 19 on net. But Weis was consistently denying the Golden Eagles’ chances, stopping more than two-thirds of their shots on net in the winning effort. The six opponent goals is a season low for the Crimson.
“Kelly’s been playing really sick lately putting up a lot of saves,” Bauer said. “She plays really well every game. She’s really clutch.”
Marquette was able to hang around with Harvard for the majority of the first half, trailing 3-2 with nine minutes left in the first half. But two goals before the end of the first half gave the home team a comfortable advantage going into the next 30 minutes.
Marquette goalie sophomore Sarah Priem was able to stop 11 shots on the day, but it simply wasn’t enough to thwart the barrage of offense from the Crimson, which fired 38 shots, including 26 attempts on goal.
Harvard was propelled by the offense of Romeo. The first-year standout recorded two goals in each half on her way to leading to team in goals. The goal total matches a career-high for the rookie out of Syracuse that she set in the team’s last game, a loss against Ivy League rival Penn. The rookie leads the team with 17 goals on the season, eight ahead of the next leading scorer.
“Romeo’s definitely one of our very best attackers and she’s definitely stepping up as a freshman,” Bauer said. “She’s putting up more points than anyone else on the team…. She brings a lot to the table.”
Not to be overshadowed by Romeo was fellow freshman Megan Hennessey, who found the back of the net on three of her four shot attempts on the day. The first-year player also won six draw controls on the day.
Despite the lack of offensive output from Marquette, the Golden Eagles still had two players notch two goals on the day. Sophomore attackers Emily Donavan and Claire Costanza led the charge on offense, beating Weis twice. Freshman Amanda Bochniak also contributed on the attack, assisting on two goals and scoring an unassisted one.
The Crimson and Golden Eagles found themselves on equal footing with winning ground balls, splitting at 22 apiece, and the home team actually found itself behind in the turnover count, losing possession, 19-14. But Harvard came away with a significant edge on draws, winning 16 of 23 on the day and helping the team maintain a distinct advantage over the Golden Eagles. Hennessey led the Crimson with six draw wins on the day, followed by four from sophomore midfielder Aubrey Todd.
Harvard also took better advantage of its free-position opportunities on the day. The Crimson was able to beat Priem on seven of the team’s 12 attempts. Marquette only had five attempts on the day, only converting for one lone goal from sophomore Kenzie Brown.
The Crimson remains undefeated at home on the season with its win over the Big East opponent. Harvard has held a distinct advantage at Soldiers Field, scoring 25 goals at home compared to its opponents’ total of 13.
—Staff writer Kurt T. Bullard can be reached at email@example.com.