Disappointing losses are nothing new to the Harvard field hockey team.
There was a 2-1 season-opening loss to a poor Rhode Island squad, a game in which the Crimson came out flat. Then there was a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Duke, which began as an evenly-matched contest but slowly degenerated into a blowout.
Saturday's 2-0 loss at Cornell was the next addition. It was not a blowout, nor was it a case of Harvard not mentally showing up--this time, the Crimson just couldn't take advantage of its opportunities.
Harvard (2-5, 0-1 Ivy) dominated every aspect of the game except goals, blasting 26 total shots and 17 on net, while Cornell amassed 17 and 13, respectively. But Big Red goaltender Molly Kauffman stopped all balls sent her way, while Harvard cageminder Jessica Milhollin let two pass by.
Shoulda, coulda, didn'ta.
"The most disappointing part was that the first half was amazing," junior attacker Courtenay Benedict said. "By halftime it was like 'We have this.'"
It was easy for the players to think that way, entering the break deadlocked at zero.
What other frame of mind would they have, after outshooting Cornell 16-5 in the first half? Remember, the Big Red gave up six goals earlier in the year to Princeton, a total that no team should ever allow.
"We had a lot of good scoring opportunities," sophomore backer Sally Romano said, "but they weren't going in."
Yes, something had to give. That thing would be Harvard.
Cornell's first goal, coming less than five minutes into the second half, could not have been more flukish. Harvard had a corner--a play that has produced four of the team's seven goals this season--so it could be inferred that the Crimson was threatening to score.
But Benedict's pass out to the edge of the arc rolled past the Crimson players stationed there--players chosen only by their ability to smack balls from Ithaca to Syracuse. Several of those happened to be backs.
The game took place on the astroturf of Schoellkopf Field, so the ball almost rolled to Syracuse. The Cornell attackers gleefully got the ball, with only a few Harvard defenders in the area. Andrea Bell passed to Cari Hills, who found Emily Robb open for the goal.
From that point on, paradise was lost for the Crimson. Before Cornell scored, Harvard was about to score; afterwards, it had to score. But the Big Red controlled the momentum and was confident, and it was the Big Red who outshot the Crimson in the second half.
The proverbial nail in the coffin came with just under six minutes to play, when Robb tallied her second goal on a feed from Camille Daniels. The door was closed.