The Harvard women's lacrosse team came one step closer to a national championship yesterday, defeating the Duchesses of James Madison 11-4, in the quarterfinals of the national tournament held at Penn State University.
The victory, the laxwomen's eighteenth of the season without a defeat, qualified the Crimson for a semifinals confrontation with eighth-seeded Maryland, who defeated tournament favorite Penn State yesterday, 12-8.
Francesca Den Hartog led the Harvard offense with six tallies, despite two-on-one coverage throughout most of the game.
"They had an extra defender on me from the start," said Den Hartog after the game. "It was really up to the rest of the team."
Although the sophomore scored more than four goals for the seventh consecutive game, Cat Ferrante opened the scoring for the Crimson after only 44 seconds.
Jennifer White and Maureen Finn added goals at 21:43 and 11:14 before Den Hartog took over, notching a hat trick between 10:48 and 9:28 and giving Harvard a 6-0 advantage.
A defensive miscue in front of the Harvard goal with only five minutes left in the half gave James Madison its sole goal of the first stanza, Jenny Eisenberg scooped up an errant groundball and beat goalkeeper Charlotte Worsley, who had an otherwise superb game, turning away 12 of the Duchesses' 16 attempts.
Worsley's success was due at least in part to the stellar play of co-captain and defender Chris Sailer and Annie Velie, the old guard of the team that consists mainly of sophomores.
Sailer, Velie, and the rest of the "Killer D" were tough throughout the game, checking strongly in front of the goal and making quick, sharp, connecting passes with the offense.
But the attack, despite the 11 goal performance, was not nearly as sharp.
"We had some trouble working together," said Finn after the game. "When our passing was good, our catching wasn't. When we started catching better, our passing got worse."
The offense will have to get its act together for today's 2 p.m. match with the Terps, who looked razor-sharp in their upset win over the host Nittany Lions.
"Everyone is really psyched," said Finn. "We're not worried; we're ready to play well."
THE NOTEBOOK: The Finn-to-Den' Hartog connection, which has been hot all year, clicked today for four goals...Den Hartog's six goal performance raises her season point total 109...Den Hartog has averaged four-and-a-half goals per game this season...Finn's two goals and three assists in today's game give her a season total of 95.