The last time the Harvard women’s lacrosse team took the field at Harvard Stadium, the weather was below freezing and the Crimson fell, 13-9, to Boston College.
Wednesday afternoon, the team had escaped what Harvard coach Lisa Miller called “the frozen tundra” and came up with a 12-8 victory over Vanderbilt (4-7, 1-1 ALC) at home. With the win, the Crimson (5-4, 2-1 Ivy) moved above .500 on the season.
Once again, Harvard’s offense was led by freshman attacker Marisa Romeo, who reached a new career high with six goals in the contest. This was the third straight game in which she scored at least four goals, and she has scored at least four goals in six of the team’s nine games this season. The rookie leads the team with 32 goals and 36 points.
“She is making the people around her better,” Miller said. “She’s just calm and skilled and smart and she takes advantage when she should and distributes the ball when she should. To have a freshman come in and play that way elevates the level of everyone around them. She has a good crew around her.”
The Crimson came out strong in the first half, scoring six unanswered goals in the opening 20 minutes of play. Vanderbilt struck back with three goals right before the half, but the final possession of the half belonged to Harvard and the Crimson prevented the Commodores from tacking on another goal before the whistle blew for halftime.
“We killed momentum, which is something we didn’t do against Boston College,” Miller said. “I was pleased with that. Even though we didn’t score they had that three-goal run but we came up with the draw control and killed the momentum.”
Building on that stop, the Crimson came out of the half determined to extend the lead and succeeded in doing so. For the first 15 minutes of the second half, the ball did not cross onto Harvard’s side of the field as the Crimson dominated play.
Early in the half, sophomore Audrey Todd and Romeo had back-to-back goals in a 55-second span to boost the lead to five. Another Romeo score five minutes later boosted Harvard’s lead to 9-3 over the Commodores. Todd’s goal came off a pass from sophomore attacker Alexis Nicolia that the sophomore bounced past the left side of the goaltender. On the next possession the Crimson won its draw control, giving Romeo the opportunity to run through the Commodores’ defense and score unassisted.
“We’ve been working a lot this year on game management and putting our offense together because we are a young team,” co-captain Chelsey Newman said. “A lot of different people were able to score this game, which has been a big improvement.”
Alongside Romeo and Rodd, who accounted for nine of the team’s 12 goals, Newman, Nicolia, and co-captain Kyle Keating proved to be integral parts of the Crimson offense. All three added a goal in the victory.
Toward the end of the game, Vanderbilt put together a 3-0 run which brought it within four goals. That was the closest they would get, as sophomore goalie Kelly Weis had key saves late in the game that kept the Commodores from scoring on anything that was not a free position shot.
“She’s consistent, she understands the game, and she makes big saves, and she understands momentum.” Miller said. “She’s a good leader; you can hear her chirping away [from the goal] because she always knows the game plan. She’s a great competitive leader and we’ve learned to count on her.”
Overall, Weis made 10 saves on the 18 shots she faced while in goal. Four of the eight goals she let by came off of free position shots. Vanderbilt was able to convert four of its nine free position opportunities while the Crimson found the back of the net on three of its four shots.
Vanderbilt did outshoot the Harvard, 25-22, throughout the contest, but the Commodore goaltender duo of Callahan Kent and Maddie Kratz could not contain the Crimson’s offense.