Looking at the linescore from the Harvard field hockey team's 2-0 loss to Connecticut Wednesday night at Storrs, Conn., it is easy to make comparisons to Harvard's previous game--a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Duke.
In both contests, the Crimson (1-3, 0-0 Ivy) was shut out, held to under four shots on goal and gave up more than 15 shots on net. Stats like these certainly give the impression that Harvard has had two awful games in a row.
"Not at all," co-captain Jessica Milhollin, the Crimson's goaltender, said. "We played so much better [against UConn than against Duke]."
Examining the data more closely, this makes sense. For starters, UConn was the No. 19 team in the nation, while the Blue Devils are far from being ranked. Second, both Husky goals were scored by Wendy Brady unassisted, which meant that Harvard effectively stopped UConn's set offense and was victimized just by momentary defensive breakdowns.
All losses are certainly bad, but this one could have been a lot worse.
"If we had played that way against Duke," Harvard coach Sue Caples said, "we'd have won 3-0."
For the first 15 minutes of the UConn game, Harvard looked like it could beat anyone 3-0. The Crimson's game plan going into the contest was to hold the Huskies' shots to a minimum and hope that its strong midfield corps would create opportunities upfield.
That's what happened--UConn didn't get too many shots early on, and the midfielders did a good job for the whole 70 minutes.
However, the UConn backs refused to allow the Harvard forwards any good scoring opportunities, and the Crimson couldn't get any momentum to build on.
"They really didn't set up their shots until the end of the first half," Caples said. "[But] we didn't have any sustained attacks."
As Harvard's window of opportunity closed, UConn's opened. That came in the form of Brady's first goal with 23:11 left in the half.
That gave the Huskies the confidence to go on attack, which they did for the remainder of the half. But Milhollin, whose 16 saves puts her only three away from breaking the Harvard all-time record, kept UConn off the board until intermission.
Down by one at the break to the No. 19 team in the nation isn't too shabby. A moral victory, at the least.
That would change soon, though. Brady knocked in her second goal of the game only 4:49 after the second-half whistle on what Caples called an "unlucky" goal, ending the scoring for the day.