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When the Harvard women's lacrosse team scheduled its game last Saturday against Penn at Ohiri Field, it was looking for a challenge. Penn 4 Harvard 19
The Quakers represented the Crimson's last opponent before next Saturday, when it meets Princeton, the defending NCAA champions. And Harvard coach Carole Kleinfelder, for one, was hoping for a hard-fought match that would emotionally prepare her team for the Tigers.
It didn't happen. The Crimson (2-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy) completely destroyed the overmatched Quakers (1-1, 0-1) 19-4. Put that next to Harvard's 12-2 decimation of Boston College last Wednesday, and you have some awfully big blowouts.
"We were hoping that they would be a little bit stronger," Kleinfelder said. "I wish that one of our games was a little more contested."
After the opening draw, it looked as though the game might be close. Harvard went on the attack first but missed its shot. Penn, after recovering the ball, moved down the length of the field and rammed the ball into the net at the 27:10 mark.
1-0 Penn, right? Nope. The goal was nullified because a Quaker was in the crease, and Harvard regained possession of the ball.
That would be the highlight of Penn's day. The Crimson immediately rumbled down the field and scored, with senior midfielder Sarah Winters (three goals, one assist) finding junior attacker Maria Hennessey (three goals, one assist) wide open in the middle for the easy score.
The avalanche hath begun. Three minutes later, freshman attacker Sarah Cable (two goals) tallied her first collegiate goal when she broomswept a ball on the ground past Penn goal-tender Alexis Seth.
Then, sophomore midfielder Liz Schoyer--beginning a day that would see her score twice, pick up seven ground balls and win five draws--intercepted one of Penn's many errant passes and rifled it into the net.
The leads got bigger, and Harvard never looked back.
"It was a blowout," sophomore goalie Kate Schutt (eight saves on 11 shots) said. "[Penn] didn't go to the goal really well--I think that our defense kind of scared them off."
Penn's offense was extremely slow and deliberate, happy to wait for long periods of time to get the right shot. Waiting for Godot, that is. The right shot was not exactly presented to the Quakers on a silver platter. A Penn offensive sequence would more often end with a bad pass or a timely stick check from Harvard than with a good shot.
The Crimson's balooning lead forced Penn from timidness to chaos. During the first half, there wasn't too much need for the Quakers to hurry, because they were within four goals most of the time. But Harvard scored twice in the final 3:37 to take a 7-2 lead at intermission. When the Crimson came out at second half like a bat out of hell, the Quakers lost all composure.
In the second stanza, Harvard tallied four times in the first 5:45, with Winters (two), Cable and Hennessey again providing the punches. This wasn't running up the score, this was a fired-up Harvard meeting a pitiful Penn.
"We always seem to play well against Penn," co-captain Megan Colligan (three goals, one assist) said. "We're so nervous in our first game that we tend to [overprepare]."
The Quakers retaliated to make it 11-3, but that was like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound.
The rest of the game was a blur of women in white jerseys being futilely chased by women in blue. Substitutions came in and out for both squads, but that didn't stop Harvard's score from approaching infinity.
For the record, the Crimson tallied the next eight goals in a row until the Quakers--in this year's award for "too little, too late"--scored with one second left.
The only negative for Harvard on the day was that the attack wasn't forced to do anything special. All day, the Crimson players picked up loose balls and blew by confused defenders for scores.
This type of fast-break offense was certainly effective, but only against a team playing as badly as Penn did. When Harvard did go to a regular, settled attack, Penn was often able to stand firm.
"I didn't feel like we had flow," Kleinfelder said. "I thought we had a lot of stopping and starting on the offense."
Harvard, of course, cannot expect Princeton to be as pathetic as Penn. To dethrone the 1994 NCAA champs, the Crimson will have to maintain a solid defense and be flawless on all styles of attack.
Still, the Tigers will be wise to fear a team that has won two games by a combined score of 31-6.
HARVARD, 19-4 at Ohiri Field Penn 2 2 -- 4 Harvard 7 12 -- 19
G: Penn--Frutkin, Wren, Tarr, Hansel; Harvard--Winters (3), Hennessey (3), Colligan (3), Cable (2), Schoyer (2), Cleary, Hall, Chelius, Clark, Maybank, Davison. A: BU--Frutkin; Har--Hall (2), Winters, Hennessey, Colligan, Clark. S: BU--Seth 13; Harvard--Schutt 8.
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