If yesterday's performance by the Harvard field hockey team is any indication of what is in store for the rest of its season, the question of life after the departure of Ivy League Player of the Year Char Joslin has been answered.
Upset was the word of the day, as the Crimson, behind Sandra Whyte's one goal and two assists, beat third-ranked Northeastern, 3-2, at Cumnock Field yesterday. "The way we played today we could beat anybody," Harvard Coach Sue Caples said. "I am ecstatic."
In raising its record to 2-0, the Crimson sent a strong message to Ivy League opponents.
"We have to keep this win in perspective," Caples said. "We have to go out there and do it against Yale. We want to do it in the Ivy League."
A win against a nationally-ranked opponent, however, can only boost the Crimson's confidence for its league schedule. The Huskies' (3-2) previous loss this season was to number-two North Carolina. "Harvard came out real strong against us. They're a good team. I'm not going to take that away from them," Northeastern Coach Cheryl Murtagh said.
With a combination of stellar defense, and timely offense, the Crimson shut down an explosive Huskies attack.
"We stuck with the game plan," Caples said. "It is very hard to be disciplined for 70 minutes, but we did it. We didn't want to let Northeastern get into a rhythm, a flow. We moved people around for this game to have specific matchups. Obviously, it worked."
Obviously. Capitalizing on Northeastern errors, all three Crimson scores were set up by a corner hit.
"We executed beautifully on our corners. Everyone showed a lot of poise," Caples said.
Poised would well describe the team's overall attack. The Crimson took a 2-0 lead into the second half, thanks largely in part to Whyte, who scored the first goal and assisted the second, a give-and-go to Loren Ambinder. An early second-half Harvard defensive lapse surrendered two quick Northeastern scores to tie the game.
"We could have lay down and said, `Okay, go ahead,'" Caples said.
Instead, the Crimson stepped up the intensity, shutting out Northeastern for the final 17:30 of the game and manufacturing the winning goal.
"It was a scrappy goal, but we'll take it," said Co-Captain Anne van Dykum, describing the play that resulted in her go-ahead score with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
If Ivy league teams hope to be successful against the Crimson, it would be to their advantage not to underestimate the team's talent or confidence. Ivy-league action begins Saturday, when Yale, 0-6 in the league last year, visits Cambridge.
"Today we worked well together," van Dykum said. "We're feeling pretty confident. We're not going to be too cocky, though."
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