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CHESTNUT HILL--It was a game played in a downpour for the benefit of about 25 spectators. It was a night better suited for puddle jumping than field hockey. It was also the most significant night in the history of Harvard field hockey.
The Crimson defeated host Boston College 2-1 last night and in doing so claimed its first Boston Four championship in seven years.
The win upped Harvard's record to 8-4-1, and marked the first time this season that the Crimson had won on turf.
"The fact that we played in adverse conditions and won shows that we're a team of character," junior Loren Ambinder said.
Some of those adverse conditions were caused by the rains that submerged Alumni Field, and others were brought on by the Crimson itself. Harvard totalled only three corners and allowed the 3-14 Eagles to outshoot the squad, 15-5.
Despite the statistical disparities, it was the Crimson who capitalized on its opportunities.
Harvard had only two shots in the second half, but both were goals. Sophomore Rachel Burke broke open a scoreless game three minutes into the half with a breakaway goal that beat B.C. goalie Lisa Ostapko.
Kristen Faller poked a loose ball towards Burke, who was waiting at the Eagle five yard line. Ostapko challenged Burke, but was unable to stop anything when she slipped on the wet turf. Burke dribbled around the fallen goalie and put a forehand into the open net.
"It felt really good to see the open cage," Burke said. "But I got scared because I shot the ball really softly."
Burke's shot had enough on it to put the Crimson in the lead and set up the momentum for Sandra Whyte's goal which came eight minutes later.
With 24:26 left, Harvard had its only corner of the second half. Whyte took a Ceci Clark pass at the 20-yd. line and lifted the ball over Ostapko's right shoulder. The goal was a replay of the score Whyte netted to defeat Princeton on Saturday.
"It's an option we practice," Whyte said. "It seems to be the hot option right now."
Whyte's goal once again proved to be the game winner. B.C. recovered from its defensive lapse, keeping the ball in the Crimson zone the rest of the way.
With seven minutes remaining, B.C.'s Jennifer Ferron put a loose rebound past Harvard goalie Lisa Yadao. The Eagles kept the pressure on Yadao (8 saves) and had two corners in the final three minutes. Whyte and Clark each broke up B.C. rushes, and the Crimson managed to wade out of Chestnut Hill with the win.
"We had moments when we played real well," Coach Sue Caples said. "But we had a few deficiencies that let them back in the game."
Despite the deficiencies, the Crimson has earned this year's bragging rights in the Boston area. Now Harvard will look for a more important title--that of the Ivy League.
"Now we have to look ahead to [Saturday's game against] Dartmouth," Caples said. "Harvard's never won an Ivy title before. We don't want to put a jinx on ourselves."
Before tonight, Harvard hadn't won a game on turf this season, and it hadn't claimed the Boston Four title in quite some time. Harvard may not have a history of Ivy titles, but things seem to be changing. History means very little now.
Crimson, 2-1 at Alumni Field Boston College 0-1--1 HARVARD 0-2--2
Scoring: H, Rachel Burke (Faller), 37:54; H, Sandra Whyte (Clark, Ambinder), 45:34; BC, Jennifer Ferron (Khozozian), 62:52.
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