In her eighteen years of coaching, Harvard coach Lisa Miller has seen games won and lost in almost every imaginable way. She has been on both ends of blowouts, led comebacks and suffered collapses, and guided teams through everything in between. What happened on Saturday, as her Crimson women’s lacrosse squad (5-3, 1-1 Ivy) faced No. 10/11 Princeton (5-2, 2-0), still came as a surprise.
After spending most of the final ten minutes of the game on attack, looking to erase a 6-5 deficit and send the game into overtime, the Crimson had one last chance to draw even with just under a minute remaining. In a stellar solo sequence, sophomore Julia Glynn brought the ball around from behind the goal, faked a run to the middle of the field, spun, and fired. The shot found the back of the net, and Glynn ran towards the Harvard bench to celebrate with her teammates.
When the referees went to check if her stick satisfied regulations, however, they found that it was a few centimeters too long. With that, they discounted the goal.
The Crimson scrambled to cause a turnover and earned one more offensive possession before the end of the game, but did not get another shot past Tigers goalie Ellie DeGarmo. She finished with 14 saves, her new season-high.
By holding on at the end, Princeton snapped a two game losing streak and also secured its 15th consecutive regular season conference win. Harvard, meanwhile, suffered its first league loss after defeating Columbia in its Ivy opener.
The result marks the Tigers’ fifth straight win in the series, although the Crimson can gain confidence from keeping the game close after losing by a combined 21 goals in the two teams’ previous three contests.
“We played well enough to win,” Miller said. “We stuck to the gameplan, we stayed composed, and in general, we did a lot of really good things. The call at the end of the game was unfortunate, but we need to get better at finishing so we don’t put ourselves in situations like that.”
Failure to capitalize on goalscoring opportunities was a problem that plagued Harvard all day, as the Crimson managed almost twice as many shots as its opponents did but only had five points to show for it. The team was especially sharp offensively in the second half, outshooting Princeton, 14-4. The final shot count was 28-15 in favor of Harvard.
The chances were there for multiple Crimson players, as six tallied at least three shots. Junior attacker Marisa Romeo led the team with six, but only converted one of them. Likewise, none of her teammates scored more than one goal.
“We expect that all of our kids can score,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, it’s kind of like basketball, where some days, the shots just don’t fall, but I thought we got the looks we wanted today.”
Using a tactic of sitting back patiently but denying Princeton the opportunity to bring the ball close to the net, the Crimson was content with giving up long possessions but kept its opponents off the board.
The strategy helped keep the Tigers from going on a run, as they did not score more than two goals in a row at any point in the game before Harvard answered.
“A lot of the older girls we have on defense now know how to withstand pressure,” Crimson goalie and co-captain Kelly Weis said. “In the second half, draw controls were also very important. They allowed us to play the game at our own pace.”
With the combination of a stout defense and just enough offense, Harvard hung with Princeton for the first time in a few years, and the game would have likely gone to overtime were it not for the disallowed goal.
“It’s always hard to lose a game like that, but we’ll just have to take it in stride,” Weis said. “With [Princeton] being such a highly ranked team, now we know we can play with anyone in the country.”
—Staff writer George Hu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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