On the heels of one of its biggest victories ever--a stunning 11-4 thrashing of Penn the first weekend of vacation--the Harvard women's lacrosse team was riding high as it headed into its spring spree through the East.
Now just over a week since that convincing win over the Quakers, the Crimson finds itself looking for the answers to its disappointing vacation venture and for a boost back up.
As quickly as the Crimson had dashed Penn's hopes of an outright Ivy League title. Princeton did the same to Harvard--sending the lax women back to Cambridge with a disappointing 0-2-1 spring trip record.
That loss to the Tigers Saturday capped a winless week-long venture, one that had already seen the Cantabs drop a heartbreaking double overtime game to Maryland and allow Temple to post a last-second goal to salvage a tie.
"I really think we could have beaten every team we played." All-American Maureen Finn said. "We just made too many crucial mental mistakes."
As a result, the Crimson now holds a 3-2-1 record, and needs some help from some usually unfriendly Ivy League opposition if it is to repeat as Ivy champs. With its victory over Harvard, Princeton has emerged as the league frontrunner.
And in the race for the nation's top four spots--which will be highly coveted when the NCAA hands out its 12 tournament bids later this month (the top four squads will receive first-round byes and the home-field advantage)--the tie at Temple and loss at Maryland did nothing to improve the Crimson's chances of moving up from its current number six national ranking.
"We need to work on getting mentally tough," Finn said. "We'll have to use these games to become even tougher in the future."
With the Penn win in hand and an unblemished 3-0 record, the Crimson looked plenty tough as it opened its trip last Monday in Maryland. Down 5-2 at the half against the second-ranked Terrapins, the laxwomen fought back to even the score at six apiece as regulation time expired. After a scoreless overtime, and several phenomenal saves from Harvard goalie Cricket Johnson, the Terrapins turned the pressure on in the second OT, and finally ended the contest when they capitalized on a breakaway with just two minutes left in the sudden death period.
There would be no overtime several days later, however, even though Harvard and Temple remained tied at 11 at the end of regulation. A decision was made by both coaches before the game began to play no OT.
A possible deadlock was the farthest thing from the Crimson minds, though, when with 12 minutes remaining the laxwomen hold on 11-8 lead. Crucial turnovers caused the game's momentum to switch to Temple, which needed some last-second heroics to tie the game. Jan Gowan's goal with just four seconds remaining left the Crimson crushed, and holders of a 3-1-1 record.
The low point of the trip came Saturday, when the Tigers surprised an exhausted Crimson squad, 10-8. Princeton controlled the game's tempo and never allowed the Crimson to take what many of the laxwomen thought would be any easy win.
"I feel like we went downhill from Maryland," Johnson said. "We had started strong and we threw it away in the last game."
THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson will try and get back on the winning track at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when it meets a weak Boston College team...Maureen Finn led the Harvard offense last week, scoring 10 goals and adding eight assists...Co-Captain Francesca DenHartog was just as strong, putting in nine goals and managing five assists.
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