They didn't come back with yellow jackets, beer mugs, or even hangovers, but the members of the women's lacrosse team did return from Kingston, R.I., Saturday night with something that the rugby team does have--an Eastern championship.
Led by Maureen Finn and Francesca Den Hartog. Who combined for 20 goals and six assists in two games, the laxwomen trounced the University of Rhode Island, 12-2. Friday morning before disposing of UMass Amherst, 9-4, in the finals of the EAIAW championships Saturday afternoon.
Against UMass, the sophomore tandem accounted for all nine of the Crimson's goals in a game that saw Harvard jump out to a quick 5-0 lead.
After the contest, however, coach Carole Kleinfelder reserved many of her plaudits for the laxwomen, defense, which rises to every occasion.
"The defense played an outstanding game," the third-year coach said. "In the first seven minutes of the game, they were flawless. They put UMass on the defensive and made the difference."
UMass did not get on the board until Margie Anderson beat Crimson keeper Charlotte Worsley, who stopped 12 of UMass's 16 attempts on the day, at 10-13 of the first stanza.
Minuteman sue Caples cut the Harvard' lead to 5-2 at 3:59, but a "Fran-to-Maureen" goal with 2:35 left and a "Maureen-to-Fran" tally with 1:12 remaining gave the Crimson a 7-2 advantage at the half.
After the intermission, both teams held the ball for minutes at a time, and the game turned into a physical defensive battle, marred by numerous charging fouls and the ejection of Crimson left attack wing Annie MacMillan for two illegal stick checks.
"It's nice to know that we are capable of playing that kind of game." Kleinfelder said. "We had to change our style and we still won.'
UMass got back into the game with two scores at 9:56 and 4:45, but "Frannie" and "Mo" doused the Minuteman fire with tallies at 2:48 and 1:54.
When the embers had cooled, Den Hartog had five goals on eight shots. Finn had four goals in seven attempts, and the laxwomen had their 16th win without a defeat.
"It was fun." an ebullient Finn said in Cambridge."
"Everyone else's cuts off the ball were good, and that left Frannie or me open. The whole attack contributed," she added.
Although EAIAW pendants were the only tangibles the laxwomen received for their efforts in Kingston, the Crimson will have a chance to pick up some watches this Thursday as they look to clinch the Ivy League championship against Dartmouth here at 3:30 p.m.
Beyond the Big Green lies the National Championships that will be held at Penn State May 15-17, where the Crimson unaccountably is ranked fourth despite the only undefeated record in Division I this year.
When asked what the laxwomen expected of the tourament, MacMillan, who had not lost any of her verve since Saturday's ejection, said simply, "to win."
The Crimson faces James Madison College from Virginia in the first round, a game which the laxwomen hope will be a repeat of last year's 11-8 first-round consolation victory.
Assuming a win over the Duchesses, Harvard will face host and number-one ranked Penn State in the semis.
"I'm 100-per-cent sure that they'll be ready." Kleinfelder said of her squad. "Knowing what to expect from the other teams and being ready for that will be the important thing."