The Harvard field hockey team made a bold statement upon its arrival in the national scene with a 9-1season-opening home win against Vermont.
The message had little to do with the nine goals that it sailed past poor Catamount keeper Holly Colberg, but the artificial turf from which the fatal shots departed.
The Crimson unveiled the $3.3 million Jordan Field, which has a synthetic surface--a necessity for high-level field hockey. Jordan opened a world of potential that Harvard (12-7, 4-3 Ivy) came heartbreakingly close to fulfilling, dropping seven games, but five by a mere goal.
Only No. 20 Dartmouth managed a victory over the Crimson by a wide margin, a 3-0 shutout in the ECAC Championship game on Nov. 13. The loss came on a grass field.
"It's a little disappointing for our season to end this way," tri-captain Katie Schoolwerth said after the game. "We played these games on grass, which is so different from the turf we usually play on, and it's just unrepresentative of the skills we have."
Led by Schoolwerth and the stifling goaltending of tri-captain Anya Cowan, who both made First Team All-Ivy, the Crimson stormed out of the gates.
After smoking Vermont, the Crimson edged Rhode Island, 2-1 before coming back from a late 4-1 deficit to stun New Hampshire, 5-4, in overtime. Harvard extended its season-opening win-streak to four games with an easy victory over Columbia.
It took then-No. 1 Connecticut to derail the Crimson. The Huskies jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead at home, and only junior forward Kate Nagle could find the back of the net for the Crimson in a 2-1 defeat.
The loss to UConn sparked a streak of inconsistency that would mar the Crimson for the rest of the season. Harvard would oscillate between a win and a loss except for a two-game homestand on Oct. 2 and Oct. 6 against Penn and Quinnipiac.
After a win over the Quakers, the Crimson had a tougher-than-expected match in its first-ever meeting with the Braves. Junior back Liz Starles scored, and the backup netminder, junior Jen Crusius, earned her first career shutout to give Harvard a 1-0 victory.
Harvard met its first Ivy defeat in its next match, dropping 1-0 at Cornell, as the rotation between winning and losing resumed.
The pattern finally felled Harvard at Jordan Field on Oct. 16 against No. 13 Boston University. The Crimson, which had climbed to No. 20 in the rankings, had difficulty getting its shots on goal, sending a number of critical scoring opportunities wide in the game. The Terriers won, 2-0, the other Harvard loss by more than one goal.
The Crimson were all-but-ousted from Ivy contention two weeks later in its second home defeat, a 3-2 overtime crusher to Princeton. Harvard never trailed in that game until a loose ball was banged past Cowan nine minutes into sudden death.
Despite the disservice, the Crimson paid the Tigers a favor in its last regular season game against Brown. Cowan made 18 saves against the Ivy's best offense, and junior midfielder Maisa Badaway darted down the field, slicing through several defenders, for the game-winner with just ten seconds left in overtime. A tie would have guaranteed Brown the Ivy League Championship, but its first loss meant it had to share the honors with Princeton.
The upset powered Harvard into the ECAC tournament where it dispatched Drexel in the first round, 2-1. But the grass simply took away too much of Harvard's passing skill against Dartmouth.
In addition to Cowan and Schoolwerth, Badaway and freshman sensation Kalen Ingram also brought home postseason honors, earning Second Team All-Ivy.
Overall, the season had to be somewhat of a disappointment for the Crimson. When a team consistently falls a little short in big games, it's a sign that it isn't an elite team--yet. But Harvard is close. Artificial turf was just the beginning.
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