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Their season of firsts has come to an end.
The Ivy-League champion Harvard field hockey team, playing against Lafayette in Lafayette, Pa., for the ECAC crown lost 1-0 in overtime on a questionable penalty shot. On Saturday, the Crimson had advanced to the final with what forward Loren Ambinder called a "sweet revenge victory" over archrival Springfield.
Lafayette's Suzi Farrell, a 30-goal scorer entering the weekend, drilled the free shot from seven yards away. Harvard goalie Lisa Yadao was able to get a hand on the blast, but the shot trickled over the line.
Yadao--who had stopped a penalty stroke in the Springfield game--never should have had to face Farrell, according to Crimson team members.
"The stroke should never have been called," Loren Ambinder said. "The girl [Stacey Shelly] entered the circle and fell down. It should have been a corner."
Co-Captain Ceci Clark, defending on the play, echoed Ambinder's thoughts.
"She was out of control when the penalty was called," Clark said. "A stroke is only supposed to be called if the play can be considered an automatic goal. There were two defenders and Lisa behind me...even if she got the shot off, it wasn't necessarily a goal."
After the referee played her part, it might as well have been.
Harvard forced overtime by holding off the Lafayette onslaught throughout the game. Lafayette goalie Jackie D'Angelo only had to make three saves, as the Crimson only managed six shots to the Leopards' 15. There was only the one shot in overtime.
"We played very strong defensively," Yadao said. "We tried to stay with our style, which is focused on passing combinations, versus their `big ball' style."
"It was hard to play our game, and not fall into their style," forward Rachel Burke said. "We made some strong runs up the field, but we didn't get enough shots."
On Saturday, Ambinder started the Crimson's 2-0 romp with a goal off an assist by Kristen Fowler eight minutes into the contest. Sandra Whyte added insurance with a tally late in the second half, assisted by Clark.
On October 3, Springfield dealt the Crimson a disappointing 1-0 defeat.
"It was nice beating [Springfield]," senior Anne van Dykum said. "In the regular season, we played terribly."
Co-Captain van Dykum is the Crimson's only graduating player, and the returnees expect more from themselves next season.
"This weekend really foreshadows the future," Ambinder said. "Next year we are looking for an NCAA-bid. Right now, I'm just going to polish my Ivy ring."
"We are looking towards next year now," Burke said. "We should be just as strong, if not better."
Leopards, 1-0 in Easton, Pa. HARVARD 0-0-0--0 Lafayette 0-0-1--1
Scoring: L, Suzi Farrell (unassisted), 71:00.
Saves: H, Lisa Yadao 11; L, Jackie D'Angelo 3.
Penalty Corners: Harvard 4; Lafayette 8.
Crimson, 2-0 in Easton, Pa. HARVARD 1-1--2 Springfield 0-0--0
Scoring: H, Loren Ambinder (Kristin Fowler) 6:29, H, Sandra Whyte (Ceci Clark) 52:53.
Saves: H, Lisa Yadao 5; S, Dawn Handlin 8.
Penalty Corners: Harvard 7; Springfield 16.
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