As dozens of suntanning spectators looked on under a perfectly blue sky Saturday afternoon, the Harvard women's lacrosse team played a less-than-perfect game, suffering a disappointing loss to the top-ranked UMass squad, 6-4.
"UMass is definitely beatable and within our reach," coach Carole Klein-felder said after the game, but added, "Today, they deserved to win because they played better."
Several factors hindered the Crimson performance, including a lack of sharp passing. Transitions between defense and offense also broke down, and impatience produced a lot of wasted shots.
"Our defense was afraid to commit themselves," freshman attack Maureen Finn said after the game.
Although freshman attack Francesca Denhartog put the first point on the board at 4:06. UMass roared back with a tally at 5:36 by potent attack wing Caroline Nickerson, who added three assists during the afternoon.
Two more goals by UMass and an unassisted tally by sophomore attack Annie MacMillan gave the Minutemen a 3-2 advantage at the half.
Opening the second half with an edge in confidence, UMass quickly padded the score when attack Julie McHugh rocketed a Nickerson assist past Harvard netminder Nancy Boutillier.
The Crimson recovered quickly, and senior star Sarah Mleczko fired two unassisted goals into the crease at 4:51 and 5:35.
The Harvard laxwomen fought to maintain the 4-4 tie, but they could not match the Minuteman teamwork. UMass freshman attack Whitney Thayer notched two unassisted tallies at 10:04 and 16:49 to clinch the contest, 6-4.
The UMass coach praised the Crimson, saying that it posed the first real challenge her team had faced. "We had to make a lot of changes because Harvard runs the ball more than any other school we've played," she added.
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