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The Harvard women's lacrosse team trailed an opponent three times late in games this year. Temple, Loyola and Maryland all jumped ahead of the Crimson this year, but Harvard still managed to secure an undefeated season and a national championship.
Lost in the excitement of the Crimson perfect season was the heroics of senior Jenny Walser, who scored 14 goals this season, including four in the Final Four last weekend. The numbers do not compare to First Team All-America Char Joslin's 44 goals, but Walser dominated one aspect of the statistical categories this year--pressure-filled, game-winning goals.
In each of the three games in which the Crimson needed a late goal to secure the victory, it was Walser who found the twines. Her last moment of glory came Sunday, with the Crimson and Maryland tied, 7-7, and four-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation.
Harvard had just tied the score 30 seconds earlier on a Liz Berkery end-to-end run for a score. With Harvard set up in its offense, Walser received the ball on the left side of the goal, 20 feet outside the crease.
It was what dreams are made of--The Goal. Who can forget Ed Krayer's backhander slithering by Minnesota goalie Robb Stauber in overtime last year to clinch the men's hockey team's national championship?
But there was no television coverage in Princeton Sunday. Only those who were there will forever cherish the memory of Walser wheeling and firing a quick wrist shot past Maryland goalie Jessica Wilk for the winning score. It was over in a second, and the celebrating had begun.
"This was a big win because so many people were forced to play different positions," Harvard Coach Carole Kleinfelder said after the game. "Jenny Walser is a transition player, not a crease player, but she scored from in front of the crease."
But this is nothing new to Walser, who beat the other two Final Four teams, Temple and Loyola, in regular-season games. On March 29, it was Walser who received a feed from Karen Everling and notched the winning goal in a 7-6 upset of Temple which broke the Owls' 35-game home winning streak.
And April 19 at Curley Field in Baltimore, the Crimson clambered back from a 4-2 deficit to pull out a 6-5 win over the then top two-ranked teams in the nation. Greyhounds goalie Sue Heether had tried to intercept a pass behind the Loyola goal and missed, allowing Harvard's Ceci Clark to slip a pass to the wide-open Walser, who nailed the wide-open net on a tough-angle shot.
For Walser, who is from Baltimore, it was a perfect opportunity to give the hometown fans a taste of her normal late-game heroics, which she would repeat one month later in Princeton.
There were no cameras to immortalize the moment, but this time, The Goal was all in the wrist...and a little bit of practice.
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