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Athletes react to pressure in one of two ways: they either crumble beneath its weight or they rise above it. At Jordan Field on Saturday afternoon, one particular athlete decided to shine.
As she gathered the pass from senior Liz Andrews, junior midfielder Kate Gannon knew what needed to happen. After six intense, pressure-packed overtime minutes, Gannon brought an end to the tension, scoring the sudden-death goal to give the Harvard field hockey team a 3-2 victory over Penn.
When asked about her game-winner, Gannon acknowledged her teammates rather than herself, claiming that sophomore midfielder Jen McDavitt and tri-captain goalkeeper Katie Zacarian were the truly great players in the game. Meanwhile, she argued her own performance was average at best.
“The goal itself felt really good...but, I have to thank my teammates—to even have us in that position. To be able to come back from 2-0 is huge, and I really give the credit to them,” Gannon said. “My play was subpar for the rest of the game, so to be able to finish it meant a lot.”
In addition to securing Harvard’s win in its Ivy League opener, Gannon’s goal gave the Crimson momentum that stayed with it on Sunday against Massachusetts.
Unfortunately for the Minutewomen, they could not perform as well under pressure as Gannon as they collapsed in a 4-0 defeat.
Gannon, however, continued to perform at a higher level. The midfielder worked with her teammates to dominate possession of the ball and prevent UMass from attempting even a single penalty corner.
During Sunday’s game, Gannon continued to pass the glory onto her teammates. Just 11 minutes into the second half, she assisted on senior Mina Pell’s goal, which began the Crimson’s scoring barrage. With two goals in the next 12 minutes, Harvard cemented its first comfortable victory of the season.
With only seven players on the field—as opposed to the usual 11—sudden death leads to more scoring opportunities. Though many chances at goal presented themselves on both sides of the field, Kate Gannon was the one able to convert. Her performance on Saturday may well be the start of a stellar season, though Gannon certainly would be the last to admit it.
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