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Why not get things started a little early?
Most women's lacrosse teams that are vying for the national title don't start the playoffs until May 17. Harvard, of course, likes to do things a little differently.
Technically, tomorrow's match-up against Dartmouth in Hanover isn't a playoff game, but it sure seems that way.
If the Crimson win, it will make the six-team postseason tournament and will play the Big Green again here in Cambridge. If not...well, if not, everyone will be crossing their fingers real hard.
At the moment, Dartmouth (4-1 Ivy, 11-3 overall) is ranked fifth in the nation and Harvard, (4-1 Ivy, 10-3 overall) sixth. As matters stand, William and Mary, the seventh seed; will not make the tournament.
So if Dartmouth loses, it would be unlikely that the pollsters would drop the team two spaces. If Harvard loses, then it's somewhat fuzzy.
"I am assuming that if we lose, we're out of the playoffs," co-captain Margot McAnaney said. "We'd still have a shot, but it would be less than 50 percent."
The game itself will pit the unyielding Harvard defense against the explosive Dartmouth offense. Harvard, led by McAnaney, co-captain Francie Walton and freshman goaltender Kate Schutt, has allowed only 81 goals and 187 shots in its games this season, all league bests.
The Crimson, however, has not played the Big Green yet. Dartmouth's attack is led by Lauren Holleran, who has amassed an amazing 42 goals as of Saturday, along with 10 assists. What's more, those statistics don't include Dartmouth's two 18-6 victories this week against UNH and UMass.
Aiding Holleran's cause is sophomore Sarah Devens, who has tallied 20 goals and 13 assists on the year.
On the other end of the field, the Harvard offense has lost junior attacker Megan Colligan for at least Saturday's game, and perhaps the season. Her playing time has been steadily diminishing as a leg injury sustained against Yale on April 6 has worsened.
Then, it was learned this week that Colligan has had a stress fracture, and thus will certainly miss tomorrow's game and perhaps any playoff games after that. Though Colligan will be missed, the offense won't be decimated. She hasn't been much of a factor for the past few games, during which scorers such as junior Sarah Winters (25 goals, 11 assists) and senior Sarah Downing (19 goals, 12 assists) have learned to cope without her.
Dartmouth is also no defensive chopped liver. Senior goaltender Kim Cohen has a league-high 67.4 save percentage in Ivy games, and was the first team All-Ivy selection at goal last year.
All in all, it should be a close, hard-fought game.
"I think that against Vermont we played very well," McAnaney said, referring to Saturday's 13-8 defeat of Vermont. "I'm satisfied with that game, but everybody realizes the importance of [tomorrow's game]."
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