BALTIMORE--Last year, summer nearly arrived before the Harvard women's lacrosse team absorbed its first loss.
But on Saturday afternoon, the first day of this spring, William and Mary did what only Temple and Maryland--the number-one and number-three teams in the country--managed to achieve last season, downing the Crimson lax women, 11-7.
In an unusual arrangement, both squads traveled to Baltimore, the lacrosse capital of the country, to open their seasons on the playing field at St. Paul's School for Girls.
The opening minutes of the contest looked like a 1981 Harvard highlights film, as juniors Maureen Finn and Francesca Den Hartog, key performers on last year's Ivy League championship team, each tallied a goal to give the Crimson an early 2-0 advantage.
But with five members of that first-place squad gone--including Ali-Ivy selections Ann Velie and Chris Sailer--the youthful Crimson could hardly expect to dominate the talent-Inden squad from Williamsburg.
"They all looked a little confused out there." Coach Carole Kleinfelder said of her charges after the game. "The upperclassmen are going to have to rise to the occasion. If we're going to be a contender, we're going to have to have Mo and Frannic lead by example, because if they panic in pressure situations, everybody else will panic too."
Arriving in Baltimore with a roster full of veterans and the advantage of a recent training trip to Florida, the Green outplayed the Crimson at both ends of the field.
After Finn and Den Hartog scored, their William and Mary counterparts, Dana Hooper and Whitney Thayer, went to work At 5:30. Thayer, a recent transfer from UMass, beat Harvard goaltender Charlotte Worsley to knot the score, 2-2. Hooper followed with a side-arm shot to give the Southerners a lead they never relinquished.
Unable to keep pace with the speedy Green at midfield, the Crimson defense gave Worsley little support. Hooper, the game's high scorer, deftly dodged Harvard defenders all afternoon to confront Worsley one-on-one.
In contract, William and Mary effectively contained the Crimson's attack with a tenacious man-to-man defense and double-team coverage on Den Hartog.
"We knew we had to stay on Francesca," said Green goalie Vicki Buvoso. "We'd heard a lot about her and knew that keeping her under control was key."
Buvoso herself was a virtual wall, recording 19 saves and completely stuffing two shots at the edge of the crease. But the Crimson offense contributed heavily to its own downfall with poor passing and sloppy shooting.
"We really made her [Buvoso] look good," said Finn, who saw only two of her 11 shots on goal get past the Green netminder.
Despite the overall mediocrity of their performance, the lax women managed to stay in the game until the final minutes on the strength of senior co-captain Ann MacMillan's three-goal effort.
"I think there's a lot of potential, and a week of really hard practice should do it for us," Worsley said. "It's there, it's definitely there."
THE NOTEBOOK: Despite the loss, Kleinfelder says that she wants to open next season with William and Mary. "I'd like to make this a tradition. It was really good for us," she said.
The William and Mary squad scrimmaged Yale while in Florida, and according to Coach Feffie Barniwell, the Elis are a team to watch in the next few seasons.