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Saturday at Ohiri Field, it was difficult to discern what was giving the Harvard women's lacrosse team more trouble, the Big Red of Cornell or the sweltering heat.
But when standout Crimson defender Maggie Vaughan collapsed at the end of the game, it was apparent that the heat had been much more brutal on the undefeated Harvard squad than Cornell's attack.
The top-ranked Crimson (12-0 overall, 5-0 Ivy) made quick work of the hapless Big Red (6-5, 1-4), 13-1, en route to its second consecutive victory against an Ivy League opponent. Like Brown, Cornell was over-powered, outmanned, outplayed...and completely outclassed.
Early in the contest, however, the Crimson was not playing with the intensity and precision that has earned it the nation's number-one ranking. And the 90-degree temperatures probably didn't help matters too much.
"I think the heat was definitely a factor," freshman midfielder Liz Berkery said. "We have to learn to play with it, because it will be hot during the nationals. We just tried to ignore it."
Julie Clifford seemed undaunted by the scorching rays of the sun. In the first half, the senior attacker tallied two goals and an assist to give the Crimson all the scoring it would need.
Big Red goalkeeper Suzanne Maman did all she could to turn away the Harvard attack. In the first stanza alone, Maman faced 23 shots, coming up with 16 saves. Crimson netminder Sarah Leary, on the other hand, barely had to break a sweat. The sophomore netminder had three saves as the Cornell attack could only manage six shots against a very unyielding Harvard defense.
"I'm pretty spoiled," Leary said. "They [the Crimson defense] basically wouldn't let me see a shot."
The exhausted Vaughan was particularly impressive. The senior co-captain turned in an inspiring performance in the Crimson's last home game of the season.
"I thought Maggie Vaughan played so well," said a thankful Leary. "She was all over the field."
In the second half, the Harvard attack played a much more controlled, error-free game, resulting in the departure of the beleagured Maman.
Senior midfielder Char Joslin opened the scoring on a pretty, backhand shovel shot after receiving a pass from Clifford, who was camped behind the Cornell cage. Joslin then put a high shot by Maman before Berkery flipped a pass to senior Co-Captain Julia French for the Crimson's eighth goal.
Big Red attacker Ria Tascoe broke the scoring draught for Cornell to make the score 8-1. Harvard's bid for a shutout was ended when Tascoe fired a high shot past Leary after burning the seemingly impenetrable Crimson defense.
"We definitely went into the game hoping we could shut them out," Leary said. "At halftime, we were like, `OK, this is it.'"
Harvard answered Cornell's sole tally of the day with five more scores of its own. The most spectacular goal of the afternoon was recorded by Joslin. Berkery began the play around the Big Red goal when she passed to midfielder Liz Hansen. Hansen turned the ball over to Ceci Clark, who found attacker French. French fed the awaiting Joslin on the wing before Joslin rifled a shot that was all net.
THE NOTEBOOK: Following Tuesday's game against Dartmouth, Harvard will have a two-week layoff...The team has decided to skip the ECAC's and will instead set up possible scrimmages along with their regular practice schedule. "Exam period is tough," Berkery said. "Now we have some time off to prepare."..And then comes the real test, the NCAA Final Four May 19-20 in Princeton, N.J.
Crimson, 13-1 at Ohiri Fleld Cornell 0-1--1 HARVARD 5-8--13
Goals: C--Ria Tascoe; H--Char Joslin 4, Julie Clifford 3, Becky Gaffney 2, Liz Berkery, Julia French, Kim Landry.
Assists: C--none; H--Clifford 2, French 2, Joslin, Gaffney, Elizabeth Hansen, Berkery.
Saves: C--Suzanne Maman 21; H--Sarah Leary 8.
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