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The UConn field hockey team, fourth ranked nationally, survived a tenacious Crimson attack and escaped with a 4-2 victory at Soldiers Field yesterday.
The Crimson, now 6-5, played well enough to defeat almost any other team. With the exception of a few disorganized minutes at the start of the second half when the Huskies tallied twice, the team produced its finest effort of this year's up and down season.
"I think we played the game of our lives," said coach Edie MacAusland, who added that she felt the Huskies, 13-3, were the equal of any team the Crimson has faced.
Only the speed of the UConn wingers and its stingy defense prevented a Crimson upset.
The Huskies' Holly Payne scored first with 3:14 left in the remarkably even first half. Although the Huskies owned a 9-2 edge in shots at intermission, Harvard kept possession most of the time, and breakaway rushes by Payne and Lorie McCollum accounted for many of the UConn attempts.
Courageous play by goalie Betty Ippolito saved a handful of goals. The junior netminder stopped two breakaways and notched 18 saves in her finest effort of the season.
The Crimson faltered at the start of the second half. UConn capitalized, with 28:20 remaining when Heidi Pike slapped the ball past an immobile Ippolito, who had attempted to kick the ball away, but discovered a prostrate Husky at her feet.
McCollum added another tally minutes later when she took a pass from Payne and drove it home. The Husky lead of 3-0 appeared insurmountable.
However, the Crimson refused to die. When UConn goalie Diane Hughes trapped the ball between her pads with 17:40 remaining, the referee awarded the Crimson a penalty stroke, and co-captain Chris Sailer converted it into her fifth goal of the year with a shot into the lower lefthand corner of the Husky net.
The remaining minutes of the game saw Harvard fluster the Husky defense with short passes. The fancy stickwork paid off with 11:15 remaining, when Annie MacMillan's first goal of the year narrowed the margin to 3-2.
Led by the excellent midfield play of Sailer, Maureen Finn and Sarah Chubb, the Crimson continued to press, but couldn't tally the tying goal, and UConn's Mary Taylor put the game out of reach with one minute remaining, scoring off a Payne pass.
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