Harvard's field hockey team reached the midpoint of its season yesterday afternoon and continued to roll merrily along. The Crimson (5-1-1) clipped Boston University, 2-1, at Cumnock Field. The victory raised Harvard's record in Boston Four play to 1-1.
The Terriers were a formidable opponent despite their 4-6 record. Three teams B.U. has faced this season reached the NCAA field hockey Final Four last year. B.U. has been playing against the big guns and was perhaps caught a little off-guard by Harvard.
At any rate, B.U. found it necessary to make excuses, complaining that Harvard refused to allot them practice time at Cumnock.
"This field was definately a big equalizer. The grass is really slow and totally changed the game," B.U. Coach Sally Starr said. "Living in the city makes it hard to find grass to practice on, and I'd say this is no indication of what this team can do."
A quick glance at the schedules shows that the Terriers have played some recent games on grass fields and are not strangers to the surface. Harvard, meanwhile, has made a second home out of turf and was playing only its second game on the thick, deep Cumnock field.
Harvard felt it played an excellent game, pursuing ball carriers and digging hard for seventy minutes.
"Both teams presented us with a very high level of play. This was our strongest game yet," Coach Sue Caples said. "We really found our rhythm."
The first half was pretty evenly played. Harvard pressured early and scored on an unassisted goal by Loren Ambinder about ten minutes into the game. After the goal, B.U. picked up its game a notch but the Crimson heldthe Terriers' offense at bay. Caples saw this as the key to the game. Harvard's backfield of Amy Belisle, Francie Walton, and Emily Buxton successfully marked the Terrier's forwards and limited their passing options.
Harvard opened the second half with the same consistent play. The Crimson, however, is a team that sometimes cannot stand prosperity. With 20:00 remaining, it looked like Harvard could hold off the Terriers, but the Crimson began to play tentatively as if it had that in mind. The slight hesitancy in Harvard's rhythm opened the door for the Terriers.
A sharply hit B.U. corner shot at 17:24 turned into a game of pinball for the players in Harvard's circle. Lisa Barone managed to get her stick on the ball and redirected it high toward the net. B.U. Tri-Captain Leslie Ambinder deftly deflected it into the net, tying the score."
It was really nothing," Leslie said. "Just one of those things."
"No, it was a gorgeous shot," said her twin sister, Loren.
B.U. continued to press for a couple of minutes, but Harvard quickly regained its poise. Terriers' mistakes led to a series of Harvard corners. Giving Harvard corner opportunities late in the game is akin to committing suicide. On the second corner play, Kristen Fowler blasted her trademark cannon through an opening between a motionless goalie and defender.
After the game, B.U.'s coach reiterated that the outcome might have been different on turf, but added that both teams played an intense match.
"It's just too bad they didn't give the game to the athletes and let their talents decide the game," said Starr.
As for the talents of the Crimson squad, Caples had nothing but good things to say.
"Our backs marked well, our middies overlapped and created offense." Caples said. "Everyone did their job. What else can you ask?"