The rain didn't help. Neither did the unfamiliar artificial surface of Parsons Field.
But neither rain nor turf ultimately prevented the Harvard women's field hockey team from winning its first game of the season. The Northeastern Huskies took care of that.
The Huskies scored two goals early in the first half and added another with less than 10 minutes to play in the game to beat the Crimson, 3-0, before two dozen rain-soaked spectators at Parsons Field yesterday.
The loss dropped Harvard's record to 0-2. Northeastern is now 3-1-2.
Northeastern controlled the game from the start. With aggressive play from attackers Karen Davidson and Jenine Fisher, the Huskies consistently kept the ball on the Harvard end of the field.
Kelly Branter's goal on a corner pass from Davidson put the Huskies up, 1-0, at 12:19. Fisher followed, smacking a brilliant shot into the net four minutes later.
Harvard's only serious first half threat came on a breakaway by sophomore wing Cindi Thompson, who sprinted past several Huskie defenders to within 10 feet of the goal. Thompson slipped on the wet carpet, however, and her sliding shot dribbled to the right of the net.
Harvard came close again in the closing minutes of the half. Forward Kate Felson took a feed just outside the penalty line but toyed with the ball too long and failed to get a shot off.
The Crimson defense had trouble clearing the ball, often smacking it out of bounds and leaving Northeastern with excellent field position. The hosts took full advantage of their opportunities, taking five first-half shots on beleagured Harvard goalie Denise Katsias.
The second half went better for Harvard. Perhaps inspired by a halftime talk from Harvard Coach Nita Lamborghini, the Cantabs came out and played more aggressively--for the first five minutes.
After that the Crimson seemed to fall back into the same bad habits that plagued them in the first 35 minutes. Listless defense and uninspired offense worked against it as the Huntington Avenue Hounds continued to plug away.
Northeastern had several opportunities to score--especially on two penalty shots with about 15 minutes left in the game--but wasn't able to capitalize until Davidson smacked one in with 8:30 left in the game.
Harvard's last serious chance to score came on an inside move by Thompson with four minutes left but her shot slid to the left of the goal.
Northeastern threatened several times near the end of the game, getting off a flurry of shots with less than a minute left, but was unable to score.
Coach Lamborghini did not see much inmprovement from last game, a 4-1 loss to Vermont, although "the defensive hacking was a lot better."
She noted that the unfamiliar artificial surface of Parsons field probably worked against her squad.
Felson regretted that her team did not get more shots on inexperienced Huskie goalie Lisa Boundreau.
THE NOTEBOOK: Thompson was hit in the face by an errant in-bounds pass near the end of the first half. She laughed off what, at first, appeared to be a serious injury.