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The Harvard field hockey team didn’t care that Connecticut was ranked No. 11 in the country. The Crimson also didn’t care that its last victory over UConn took place more than 10 years ago. All Harvard cared about was winning—and tri-captain Kate McDavitt took care of that.
McDavitt scored the game-wining goal in the final minutes yesterday, as the Crimson (4-2) upset the Huskies, 3-2, in Connecticut.
The field hockey rivalry between UConn (5-3) and Harvard dates back to 1991, the last time Harvard beat the Huskies. With the win—Harvard’s first against a Top-20 team this season—Coach Sue Caples feels that her squad has gained the momentum needed to break into the Top 10, a goal that has just escaped the team for the past two seasons.
That benchmark seems even more within reach considering the fact that Harvard received eight votes in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s poll, which was released before yesterday’s upset.
“With a team like UConn, there’s significant name recognition in the league,” Caples said. “We’re in a position now that our opponents are going to be bringing their game to us.”
Although hard-fought throughout, the highlight of the game was McDavitt’s goal at 59:11. Senior midfielder Liz Andrews put a hard drive into the circle from 25 yards out, just as McDavitt was heading towards the goal. With three defenders attacking her from the front and sides, McDavitt dived towards the goal, managing a one-handed tip shot that sent the ball soaring into the net.
McDavitt described the goal as one of her personal “career highlights,” but was simply pleased that she was able to contribute to the team’s victory.
“There was a lot of effort coming from everyone and there’s definitely a good win mentality that we’ve got coming out of this game.”
Despite her heroics, McDavitt was not completely satisfied with the win. Harvard led 2-0 at the half, with goals from sophomores Beth Sakovich and Jen McDavitt, Kate’s younger sister. But UConn stormed back in the opening minutes of the second half, tying the game at 2-2 with just under thirty minutes to play.
Though McDavitt came up with the game-winner, she hopes the team will “soon be at a place where we can hold the shutout and keep our offense as strong as it was in the first half. We came out harder than we did against Maryland, and it showed, but we need to be able to keep that up.”
The victory also stopped a two-game slide for the Crimson. Harvard fell 3-2 to Richmond 5-1 to No. 3 Maryland, this weekend. But Caples feels the early season defeats may have been a blessing in disguise.
“What we learned Sunday (against Maryland) was that we needed to up the speed at which we play the game,” Caples said. “One of Maryland’s strengths is how quickly they move the ball. Playing them helped us improve our team speed, and we were able to do it today, which was a big advantage for us.”
Caples hopes that yesterday’s win will set the tone for the rest of the season.
“We are a powerful team that is capable of playing and competing against the best in the league,” the coach said. “If we keep executing better and keep upping the quality of play, I think we have a very exiting season ahead of us.”
The team is looking forward to Saturday’s game against Brown (5-1), its second Ivy League match-up this year. The Bears upset No. 17 Boston University and received nine votes in this week’s NFHCA’s poll.
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