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A wet, slippery field and a tough, fast UConn team combined to hand the Harvard women's field hockey team its first defeat of the season, 1-0, Saturday afternoon in Storrs.
In their first away game of the year, the frustrated Crimson battled the fired-up Huskies evenly throughout but were unable to overcome either the spongy turf or the lead UConn enjoyed as a result of a first period tally.
Harvard goalie Ellen Siedler turned away nine of UConn's 14 shots, but an unsuccessful clear early in the game cost her both the shutout and the contest.
With 13:30 gone in the opening stanza, UConn's Capitani collected an errant Seidler clearing pass and sent it to her teammate June Longo, who had broken in behind the usually superb Crimson netminder and had little difficulty pumping the ball a few feet into the empty net.
The rest of the game consisted of some tightly contested midfield play, but Harvard's big guns, perhaps a bit cocky after Thursday's 8-0 thrashing of Tufts, were unable to get untracked. Harvard's usually explosive front line, led by last year's high scorer Sarah Mleczko, managed 13 shots, only four of which had to be turned away by the UConn goalie.
"We didn't quite have the psychological edge you need against a good team," captain Lucy Wood said yesterday. By late in the game, the battle-weary Crimson were "playing their game instead of our own," Wood added.
The psyched-up state of the UConn squad on Saturday was indicative of a problem the Crimson stickwomen could face increasingly coming off last year's spectacular 11-1-2 season.
"All the teams we're playing will be waiting for us this year," the Harvard captain noted. "Now we have a reputation."
Particularly vengeful will be the Northeastern team that the Crimson face this Wednesday. Last year's upstart Harvard contingent thoroughly shocked the unsuspecting Northeasterners with a thrilling 2-1 upset, and this year's contest promises to be equally emotion-packed.
Northeastern has a very physical team, laden with P.E. majors whose style can best be described as brutal.
Body and Soul
"Now that we've lost we know what we have to do," Wood commented after Saturday's disappointment. "We've got to work on our conditioning and get psyched for Wednesday.
But in light of the dousing Harvard's offense received against UConn, after outscoring their opponents 11-0 in the previous two games, it appears she forgot one more task--to pray for no rain.
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