AMHERST--The game started an hour and a half late.
But for the Harvard field hockey team, it probably shouldn't have started at all.
The stickwomen sported unhappy faces yesterday as they trudged off Toton Field and away from a 3-1 defeat at the hands--or, rather, the sticks--of an awesome UMass squad.
But those faces gave a quite--unnecessarily--pessimistic view of the Crimson's situation.
After all, the stick-women--although owners of a 2-5-1 overall record--are 1-1 in Ivy League play and only a half-game behind league-leading Penn.
And a non-conference loss to a fast Minutewomen squad (9-2-1, fifth-ranked nationally) will not count against the Crimson in its quest for the Ivy League crown.
"Our record is not indicative of what we are capable of," Crimson Coach Nita Lamborghini said.
Although predominately a young team, the Crimson got its best efforts yesterday from two elder statesmen--senior Co-Captains Anne Kelly and Alicia Clifton.
Kelly's aggressive defense and long hits out of Harvard territory kept the Cantabs close throughout the first half, which saw UMass take a 1-0 edge.
Clifton scored the Crimson's only goal of the game--and only its fifth of the season--with six minutes left in the game.
The score was set up by a pass from midfielder Leelee Groome which Clifton stopped 18 feet from the UMass goal. After driving to within 10 feet, Clifton smacked a shot past diving Minutewoman goalie Kathy Rowe.
Despite what the score might indicate, Crimson goalie Denise Katsias turned in a good performance. The freshman keeper blocked 11 Minutewomen shots, and the three goals she let by all came in difficult circumstances.
UMass drew first blood with eight minutes gone in the game when Amy Robertson intercepted a Katsias clearing pass and deposited the ball in the left corner of the goal.
The Minutewomen's second goal--at 1:19 of the second half--came on a Christine Kocot blast from an inch inside the penalty stripe which slipped through the recently stellar Harvard defense and into the same lefthand corner.
The final UMass goal came off a penalty shot, set up when Crimson midfielder Bambi Taylor illegally blocked a Minutewoman shot inside the goalie box at 24:09 in the second half.
Lisa Griswold set up seven feet from the Harvard goal and blasted a shot on Katsias--who appeared to have blocked the ball only to see it slip under her legs and into the net.
Although discouraged after the loss, the Crimson remained optimistic about its chances in the Ivy League.
"We're psyched for Dartmouth," sophomore forward Cindi Ersek said of Harvard's next opponent.
Lamborghini was equally up-beat.
"We've been playing really well lately," she said. "We've just got to keep our heads up and bounce back."