Good teams win when they play well, great teams can pull out a victory even when things don't click.
The Harvard field hockey team made its bid for great team status yesterday by edging Northeastern, 2-1, on Soldier's Field. The Crimson takes a 4-0-1 record to Philadelphia Saturday for its Ivy League opener against Pennsylvania.
Playing in their fourth contest in five days, the weary stick women failed to dominate play to the extent they have in earlier games Nonetheless, the Crimson managed to scrape by on superior ability and persistence.
"They're dead." Harvard Coach Edie Mabrey said of her battle-weary charges.
As in Sunday's double-header with Bentley and Boston University, the stick women followed the ball a little bit too much a symptom of fatigue. When forwards follow the ball, they collect in the middle and cramp the offense, giving the attackers less room to work with and the defense less space to defend.
Despite this, Harvard created abundant scoring opportunities through its superiority in stick handling. The Crimson has out finessed all of its opponents to date and yesterday had little trouble outmaneuvering the Huskies (1-2) in stick to-stick confrontations.
The stick women posted a 17-9 advantage in penalty corners, but managed to convert only one into a goal. "We need to score more goals off of penalty corners," Mabrey said, explaining that capitalizing on short corners and other scoring opportunities will be essential for victories against the stiffer, upcoming Ivy competition.
Wing Kate Martin forced many of the Crimson's 17 short corners with her aggressive drives toward the net. Her speed makes her virtually impossible to defend one-on-one, and she never stops pressuring the goal.
Martin picked up the first Harvard score by being in the right place at the right time. Trailing 1-0, Crimson Co-Captain Maureen Finn hit a penalty stroke from just outside the top of the penalty circle Left wing Jennifer White picked it up in a crowd and slapped the ball toward the Husky net. Northeastern goalie Sandy Ward made a pad save, but Martin was there for the rebound. Finn swept the ball to the right and poked it past the diving Ward into the corner of the goal to knot the score at the 19 minute mark.
Northeastern became the first team to lead Harvard this year when Jo-Ann Lavender fed Ellen Vera on a breakaway down the left side of the field. Vera's 15 yard drive crossed into the far corner of the goal 9:57 into the game to put the Huskies on the board.
Out of a Crowd
Harvard broke the tie 4:29 into the second stanza on Bambi Taylor's first goal of the year. The ball came out of a crowd in front of the net onto the stick of Taylor at the point of the penalty circle. The New Castle, Del. native sent the ball screaming into the goal for the game winning tally.
Three other times in the second half the stick women though they had found the back of the net only to have the goal overruled by a call of off sides or dangerous play. The officiating, which was inconsistent but evenhanded, led Mabrey to call the battle "the craziest game I've ever seen."
THE NOTEBOOK: This is Mabrey's best start ever in her four seasons as head field hockey coach. She attributes part of her team's stellar start to scheduling, however, noting. "We've had most of the easiest games of the season. . ." Mabrey will give her squad today off in an attempt to alleviate the weariness that has plagued it over the last couple of games. Fatigue shouldn't pose as much of a problem once the Ivy schedule starts. Though the games get tougher, the schedule gets saner with the stick women taking on only two opponents per week.