BOSTON--With two starting defensemen nursing injuries and with everyone peeking ahead to Saturday's showdown with Princeton, the Harvard women's lacrosse team was ripe for a letdown yesterday. Junior Honor MacNaughton wouldn't let it happen.
The attacker scored five of the Crimson's 10 goals on the afternoon as Harvard rallied from two separate three-goal deficits in the first half to beat Boston University, 10-8, at Nickerson Field.
Unlike its two previous games, Harvard (3-0 overall, 0-0 Ivy) played better in the second half than in the first. The Crimson offense sputtered through the game's first 28 minutes, falling behind by a 5-2 margin. But freshman Ashley Birch and MacNaughton scored fast-break goals around a B.U. goal, and at halftime the Crimson trailed 6-4.
In the second half, Harvard's defense was able to make stickchecks without fouling, while the set offense was able to stretch the Terrier defense and isolate the speedy MacNaughton. All three of her second-half goals came on essentially the same move--a cut from the left side of the goal past her defender and a quick, closein shot.
"We did a good job spreading it out," she said. "They played a tight one-on-one, so you only needed to make one good move."
The comeback began when MacNaughton scored midway through the half, cutting B.U.'s lead to 7-6. That began a string of five unanswered Harvard goals over 13 minutes.
Birch scored three minutes later, followed by junior Holly Rogers and two by MacNaughton. Rogers also kept the whole string going by capturing four consecutive draw controls after those goals.
B.U. tallied the final goal of the day, ending a 17-minute scoring drought. But by then, there was only a 1:30 left to play.
The Crimson's defensive play during this period was completely different than during the rest of the game. Harvard was without co-captain Daphne Clark and, for most of the time, senior Chris Shortsleeve. Clark injured her back practicing on the hard floors of Harvard's indoor facilities, while Shortsleeve's bad leg only allowed her to play for the first few minutes of the game.
In the first half, they were missed. The Terriers opened up a quick 2-0 lead in the game's first two minutes as B.U.'s Jennifer Manning and Rosie Gaynor were able to slice straight through Harvard's interior defense.
The Crimson was twice able to cut the lead to one goal--first when freshman Genevieve Grandison answered Gaynor, then when MacNaughton made it 3-2 with 11 minutes left in the half. But Harvard's hopes for tying the game were not realized, as the defense could not keep B.U. under wraps.
Offensively, the Crimson was having more troubles. The passing and catching on the transition from defense to offense was not consistent enough to ensure many opportunities in the set offense, and while Harvard did have many fast-break opportunities--B.U.'s defenders played far up on offense--many shots ended up hitting the body of Terrier goalie Madeera Kathpal.
But Birch and MacNaughton helped change that in the waning moments of the half with quick goals, and senior Liz Hren pulled Harvard to within one in the opening moments of the second half.
In what was perhaps a microcosm of Harvard's offense up to then, Hren was finally able to get the ball past Kathpal on her second free position shot in a thirty-second span.
After that goal, the pace of the game began to change. B.U. scored at the 18-minute mark on a one-timer by Michelle Ellsworth, but then Harvard took over.
G: Harvard--MacNaughton 5, Birch 2, Rogers, Hren, Grandison; B.U.--Gaynor 3, Manning 2, Cooney, Ellsworth, Trait. A: Harvard--Davis; B.U.--Manning.