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HANOVER, N.H.--It wasn't the best game the Harvard field hockey team has played this year.
Although junior Sandra Whyte capped off her hat trick with a goal late in the second half, it was a period that many of the Crimson players would like to forget.
But by emerging with a convincing, if not pretty, 3-1 victory over Dartmouth last Saturday, the Crimson (9-4-1 overall, 4-0-1 Ivy) now has only one thing to think about.
"Just one more to go," said junior Loren Ambinder, looking ahead to Harvard's Wednesday matchup with Brown at Cumnock Field "We're pumped up and we're ready. We don't want to be denied."
With a win over Brown, the first-place Crimson would clinch the Ivy League title for the first time ever. Last year, the Bruins dashed Harvard's title hopes with a 2-1 heartbreaker in Providence.
So despite shoddy midfield play and inconsistent offense during the second half, Harvard accomplished its goal: it escaped with a win and kept its destiny in its own hands.
"I think we've felt better after wins than we did today," Harvard Coach Sue Caples said. "But I think we'll be all right. We've got good players and we'll be ready."
Whyte was the leader in the effort against the lowly Big Green (2-10-2, 0-5-1), burning netminder Tina Rosenblum for all three Harvard tallies.
Dominating Dartmouth throughout the first half, Harvard allowed only three shots on goaltender Lisa Yadao and kept most of the play in the opposite end.
Just six minutes into the game, junior Ceci Clark trapped a Loren Ambinder corner for Whyte, who beat Rosenblum low to the corner. Twenty minutes later, the Crimson was awarded a penalty stroke after Rosenblum smothered the ball in the crease to stem heavy Harvard pressure. Whyte converted the free shot to give the Crimson a 2-0 advantage.
Rosenblum had trouble throughout much of the game, showing robot-like indecisiveness when confronting Harvard attackers. On several occasions, Rachel Burke and Ambinder came close to embarrassing the unprepared sophomore, who was often caught out of position.
At the opening of the second half, Harvard no longer looked so impressive. Spectators arriving late even doubted the accuracy of the scoreboard when they saw Dartmouth dictating most of the play in the second half.
One of the few bright spots for the Crimson was strong play by the rookies on the left flank. Sarah Downing and Emily Buxton combined strongpassing and control in their numerous drivesupfield.
Dartmouth managed to get several corners midwaythrough the final period, but the efforts wereweak and easily broken up by a charging defensivecorps.
With Dartmouth unable to capitalize on itschances, the Crimson eventually buried the BigGreen by converting a corner at the 24:36 mark.Whyte notched her final goal on a shot which wasdeflected into the far corner by a Dartmouthplayer's stick. Dartmouth all-time high scorerLaurie Khelokian closed out the scoring byrebounding a corner past Yadao with nine minutesleft to play.
Whyte has scored goals in the past threeHarvard games, standing out on defense as well.
"We ask her to do everything," Caples said."But we couldn't do these things if she didn'thave the strong support around her."
Even with the disappointing finish on Saturday,the squad seems prepared and excited about itsshot at the title against Brown.
"We broke down in the second half," Yadao said."But whatever went wrong can be easily fixed."
"[Brown is] physical, scrappy and they fightlike hell," Caples said. "It won't be easy, butwe'll be up for it."
Crimson, 3-1 in Hanover, N.H.
HARVARD 2-1--3Dartmouth 0-1--1
Scoring: H, Sandra Whyte (Ceci Clark),5:47; H, Whyte (unassisted), 29:02; H, Whyte(Clark), 59:36; D, Laurie Khelokian (AnnRosamond), 61:14.
Saves: H, Lisa Yadao 8; D, Tina Rosamond7
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