DURHAM, N.H.--Not since the freshman mixer have so many women stayed in so small a space for so long.
A congregation of University of New Hampshire field hockey players spent 35 minutes lingering about the Harvard goal crease, but couldn't but the ball past goalie Betty Ippolito here Saturday, as the Crimson jolted the 11th-ranked Wildcats by playing to a 0-0 tie.
"It's really hard to keep up under that kind of pressure," halfback Chris Sailer said. "You just want to get the ball out of your end for a while. If they keep it in your end for so long, they'll usually score."
They didn't score because Sailer turned in her best performance of the season. The co-captain played center boulder in the rock-hard Harvard defense which rendered 16 UNH drives harmless and allowed the Wildcats only four shots off 14 penalty corners.
Ippolito recorded only eight saves, but touched the ball many more times--deflecting passes, kicking loose balls upfield and slapping them away from the Wildcat forwards encamped on her doorstep.
One ball she didn't touch almost became the game's only goal. A Gabrielle Haroules flick got past Ippolito, but freshman back Lili Pew was there to preserve the shutout.
"Betty yelled before the play that she was going to get the ball, but it got by her. I was just back supporting the play, and I tipped it away," Pew said, adding, "If that play came up ten times, I'd make it once."
Pew's save helped prevent what would have been Harvard's third loss to a nationally ranked squad. Previously, the Crimson fell to fifth-ranked Connecticut and number eight Massachusetts. Of the three, Sailer feels New Hampshire is the best.
"UNH seemed to have more people at that level," she said. "UMass had Judy Strong, UConn had Lauren Fuchs plus one or two others, but UNH didn't rely on one person as much. They were all strong."
Wildcat midfielder Carla Hesler was one of the strongest. Sporting a light blue headband and a lighting-fast stick, the Lynnfield, Mass., native kept the ball inside the Harvard circle.
But once it got there, Hesler and her mates ran into trouble. "Harvard had an excellent defense," New Hampshire coach Jean Rilling said. "Nevertheless, we hurt ourselves with bad passes inside the circle. We couldn't get our shots off."
The stickwomen take a break from the top 20 types and face Northeastern at home Tuesday in their next encounter. The respite is brief, however--Saturday the team will fly to Penn to face the formidable Quakers in its Ivy League opener.
THE NOTEBOOK: New Hampshire is colder than Massachusetts. The 11 a.m. start and gusting winds made the Harvard entourage--used to the warmer climate down south--quite uncomfortable. Still, almost 100 people braved the weather to watch the game. They must be used to it... UNH remains undefeated, with a 3-0-1 record. Harvard is 1-2-1... UNH outshot Harvard, 16-3, 11-1, in the second half. The Wildcats earned 14 corners to two for Harvard, and New Hampshire goalie Debbie Cram needed to stop only two shots.