Only one player from the Harvard women’s lacrosse team found the back of the net throughout the entire 60 minutes of play on Saturday.
The Crimson (2-2, 1-1 Ivy) fell to No. 15/17 Penn (3-1, 1-0) by a 9-4 margin at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, as the loss drops Harvard to .500 on the season. The team has been unable to tally a victory against the Quakers in its last 15 matchups, dating back to 2001.
“We were a little disappointed with the outcome,” freshman attacker Marisa Romeo said. “It wasn’t really turnovers or anything like that; it was just one of those days when shots weren’t falling. The score doesn’t really represent what happened. It was really a close game the whole time.”
Romeo led the team with all four of its goals, bringing her season total up to a team-high 13. Her four tallies Saturday tied a season-high that she had previously scored against St. Mary’s on Feb. 23.
“Marisa is a great dodger,” freshman Maeve McMahon said. “She was double teamed and still was able to get shots on goal. She gets to know a team, and she did and was able to score. We were playing off the ball, so credit to her for getting those goals.”
There were no lead changes throughout the match, as Penn scored in the first five minutes of the game and did not look back.
The Crimson managed to get within one goal multiple times, coming closest when the contest was 4-3 and 5-4, but could not muster the offensive push to pull ahead. The largest Penn lead of the game was five, reflected in the final score.
After the 15 minute mark in the second half, the Harvard sticks went silent. The Quakers held the Crimson to no scoring for the rest of the game, while adding four goals of their own in the meantime.
“We talked a lot about off ball [during halftime],” McMahon said. “We wanted to make sure that people that didn’t have the ball are still doing their job. Playing our game and playing our system is really important to us. Doing that is the only way we are going to win.”
Romeo’s first two goals were free-position shots that snuck past Penn goalie Lucy Ferguson. The second strike came off a pass that the defender was called for a shooting fake on, allowing Romeo to have a shot at a free-position goal.
“That was really something that we worked on in practice all week; getting defense out of position in order to draw a whistle,” Romeo said. “That fact that we were able to execute that in a game and even get a goal off of it was good.”
Her next two goals both went in the net unassisted, giving Romeo most of Harvard’s offensive stats on the day.
Sophomore defender Tory Waldstein had four ground balls in the match, contributing to the Crimson final tally of 18. The Quakers one-upped Harvard and had 19 on the day.
“We are going to keep building on what’s been happening; working on our offense, defense and transitioning,” McMahon said. “Making sure the whole team has our system down and executes during games is what is going to help us going further in the season.”
Penn also outshot Harvard, 19-18, throughout the game and had the advantage in draw controls, winning 12 out of the 15.
“It was a little bit of both [a slow start and shots not falling],” Romeo said. “We got a lot more shots off on this team than we did last week, but we definitely weren’t as sure of ourselves in the first half of the game as we were against Cornell [last Saturday].”
Harvard managed to win the turnover battle, as the team forced Penn to cough it up 13 times to 12 of its own. Saturday marked just Harvard’s second conference game of the season.
“We’re definitely going to work on our offense more because our defense played outstanding,” Romeo said. “The offense just wasn’t able to execute. I think we are going to really emphasize that going forward in practices and in games.”
—Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.