Coming off a huge victory over No. 11 UConn on Wednesday, the Harvard field hockey team won its second straight contest on Saturday, gutting out a 1-0 victory over Brown on Jordan Field.
Junior midfielder Shelley Maasdorp provided the lone goal at 18:32 and the Crimson (5-2, 2-0 Ivy) held on to give tri-captain goaltender Katie Zacarian her school-record 22nd shutout.
Though Harvard dominated and constantly pressured Brown’s defense, the Crimson was forced to stall in the waning moments of the contest to preserve the win.
Maasdorp’s game-winner came on a penalty corner, when tri-captain back Jen Ahn made the stick stop and sent the ball to senior midfielder Liz Andrews on the right side of the circle. Andrews waited to draw the UNH defense before feeding a nifty pass to Maasdorp, who snuck a shot into the corner of the net.
The Crimson had 12 penalty corners on the game, but couldn’t convert any others, leaving the door open for the Bears.
“You can never work enough on corners,” Maasdorp said of Harvard’s inability to capitalize on its penalties.
“We were a little bit off,” Harvard coach Sue Caples said of her team’s corners. “We’ve lost a lot of players to practice time because we’re injured. But we’re putting [shots] on net and we’ll get the timing back. Our penetration opportunities inside the [25-yard line] were very good.”
The Crimson had several excellent chances to score and sent 17 shots toward Brown goaltender Kathryn Noe, but was turned away repeatedly.
Tri-captain Kate McDavitt just missed an open-net opportunity late in the second half, one of Harvard’s many attempts to add an insurance goal.
“Basically, the entire game we dominated,” Maasdorp said. “We do need to work on capitalizing on our opportunities. Our fundamentals broke down a little bit.”
To prevent Brown from knotting the score, Harvard slowed down into a possession game during the closing minutes of the contest. Maasdorp displayed some impressive stick work to keep the ball away from the Bears, frustrating the Brown defense and even drawing a penalty corner.
“They could have gotten a breakaway and with a 1-0 [score], the key was to slow down their game,” Maasdorp said. “Possession was critical.”
Although it was a hard-fought game and probably too close for comfort, Caples was nonetheless happy with a conference victory.
“I think Ivy League games are always just tough battles,” Caples said.
Zacarian finished with four saves. Despite being rarely tested thanks to the Crimson’s persistent offense, Zacarian quelled the Bears’ few threats, making an impressive sprawling save off her pads to stop a late Brown charge.
With the shutout, Zacarian passed Ellen Seidler ’79 as Harvard’s all-time leader in the category.
“Zacarian’s shutout speaks a lot to the defense in front of her,” Caples said.
The Crimson will try to keep the momentum going when it hosts New Hampshire at Jordan Field on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Though Harvard beat the Wildcats 5-0 last year, Caples still expects a demanding matchup.
“We always have tough games with them,” Caples said. “It sounds like at 5-0, we beat them easily [last year], but it’s always really physical.”