The Harvard field hockey team nipped Brown, 1-0, Saturday at Soldiers Field as the stickwomen continued their campaign of watchful winning.
Halfway through the regular season's final fortnight, the 10-2-2 Crimson has been far more successful winning games than watching scoreboards. Harvard has claimed the first two of its final four contests, but victories by Princeton and the University of Massachusetts have prevented the stickwomen from gaining ground in either the Ivy race or their quest for a berth in the NCAA Championship tournament.
Princeton's 2-1 conquest of Dartmouth Saturday killed Harvard hopes of a shared Ivy title, as the Tigers closed out a 6-0 league season. The Crimson (4-1 in the Ivies) has clinched second place, so when Yale travels to Cambridge this weekend, Harvard's NCAA hopes will be the only thing on the line.
The stickwomen made their debut in the national rankings last week, placing 20th, Coming in 10th and 12th respectively were UMass, which the Crimson played to a scoreless tie, and Princeton, which nipped Harvard, 1-0.
The NCAA will invite 16 teams to its post-season tournament, and probably at least two will be from the Northeast. The third-ranked University of Connecticut holds a lock on one of those tournament bids, leaving UMass. Harvard and Springfield to light for the remainder. The tournament selection process is not connected with the national poll. and the selection committee is free to invite any 16 teams.
The Crimson travels to Spring field Tuesday night, with both teams needing a victory to stay in the Journey picture. The Wildcats placed 17th in last week's poll though it must be noted that the Spring field coach has one of seven votes used to compile the rankings.
Had the stickwomen fallen to Brown Saturday, all NCAA speculation would have come to an abrupt end, Even a lie would have virtually quashed Crimson hopes.
Harvard came out strong and emerged from the first half dominating everywhere but the scoreboard. The Crimson earned 10 penalty corners to the Bruins' two but couldn't force the bull past Brown netminder Amy Bennett.
Early in the second stanza, Harvard's pressure finally paid off Co-Captain Maureen Fian earned a short corner nine minutes into the half, and the Crimson attackers began to blast away at Bennett. Thirty seconds later right wing Kate Martin got Harvard another short corner. A melee in front of the goal ensued, and left wing Jennifer White flipped the belt into the net for the game's only score.
After the goal, Harvard's attack seemed to let up, but the Bruins never really threatened to tie the contest. Crimson netminder Juliet Lamont tallied her seventh shutout of the years, she has blanked half her opponents. As usual, a staunch defense kept attack on Laront few and far between.
Bambi Taylor continued to play a strong inner forward The most powerful hitter on the Crimson squad. Taylor hustled for six second-half shots on goal.
Another player growing into her position is Trina Burnham, whose confidence has blossomed since she entered the starting lineup early in the season. "Trina's the most improved player on the team," said Crimson Coach Edie Mabrey after the game.
Mabrey believes her team should win when it plays its first night game of the year Tuesday at Springfield. "I don't think they should be ranked ahead of us," she said. "Their schedule's not half as tough as ours. We have to prove it."