After successfully clinching a spot in the Ivy League tournament in its last match, the Harvard women’s lacrosse team returned to Harvard Stadium to take on Dartmouth and attempt to move up to the two seed before the start of the postseason.
In a game which saw both teams go on scoring streaks in the first half before experiencing some difficulty scoring in the second stanza, the Crimson (9-6, 4-3 Ivy) suffered a tough 9-8 loss to the Big Green (6-8, 3-4) on Senior Night despite outshooting Dartmouth 32-19.
“They face guarded well,” Harvard coach Lisa Miller said. “They shut off Marisa [Romeo] and Audrey [Todd] at different times…. We saw two of our leading scorers and leader on attack being shut off, so that means other people need to pick up the slack and put the ball away…. We just didn’t finish.”
Dartmouth senior attacker Lindsey Allard scored the winning goal with 1:16 left to clinch the game in the last home performance for Crimson seniors Chelsey Newman, Kyleigh Keating and Chloe Soukas. The loss prevented Harvard from moving up in the Ivy League standings and the Crimson remains in third place in the Ancient Eight.
The first half was a tale of two stories as both Harvard and Dartmouth went on long runs marked by defensive lapses by the opposing team to score a combined 11 goals in the period.
Harvard got off to an early start in the game, as Newman scored an unassisted goal three minutes into the first period to give the Crimson a lead. A minute after the opening goal, Harvard doubled its lead via a goal by freshman midfielder Megan Hennessey on an assist by classmate Romeo.
The Big Green responded with a sophomore midfielder Jaclyn Leto goal off of a free position shot to spark the away team’s offense and get them off and running.
The attack continued with senior attacker Liz Calby breaking down the Crimson defense close to the crease to score an unassisted goal and level the score.
Attackers Ingrid Hermanson and Samantha Schiff put Dartmouth on top 4-2 with a goal each a minute after leveling the score, once again taking advantages of lapses by the Harvard defense.
Calby ended the run by scoring 10 minutes later, establishing a 5-2 lead with 10 minutes left in the period.
Despite struggling to contain the break apart the Dartmouth possession, the Crimson responded with a run of its own before the end of the half to regain control of the match.
The freshmen started the attack, with Hennessey and Romeo both scoring unassisted goals in a span of 40 seconds.
The seniors followed, as Newman and Keating each scoring before the half to give Harvard a 6-5 lead.
Despite leading by just one goal, the Crimson had multiple opportunities to extend its lead before the half, having outshot Dartmouth 22 to nine while forcing nine turnovers out of the Big Green.
“When you outshoot a team 22 to nine at halftime and you’re only up by one it’s obviously not a good performance.” Miller said.
The second half started on a positive note for Harvard, as sophomore attacker Alexis Nicolia scored an unassisted goal to continue the scoring streak for Harvard before Calby countered with her third goal of the night five minutes into the period.
Dartmouth continued to dominate the possession battle, keeping the ball away from the Crimson while also winning the ground ball battle nine-to-five.
The scoring drought finally broke when Romeo scored her league-leading 46th goal of the year to put Harvard up 8-6.
The match would experience yet another scoring drought with neither team being able to break through for the next eight minutes until Calby scored her fourth goal to close the gap to one.
Dartmouth would use this to spark the game deciding run, as Leto would score off of a free position shot before Allard’s goal would put the Big Green up for good.
Despite the loss, the Crimson will continue to play in the Ivy League tournament in Princeton, N.J., as the three seed. The Crimson will face second seed Penn as it starts its quest for the Ivy League postseason title. Miller believes the loss can be used as an example of what the team will encounter at the tournament.
“If we learn from [the loss] and get better, [this loss] can be used as a good tool.” Miller said.
—Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.