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Entering the action on Saturday, stepping onto Jordan Field to square off against Ivy League rival Columbia in the final game of the regular season, midfielder Jen McDavitt was pursuing both individual and team glory.
When the day was done, by securing the former, the junior had achieved the latter.
With a Penn win over Princeton the day before, the Crimson players only needed to overcome Columbia to capture the Ivy League crown and a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
“Knowing it was in reach,” McDavitt said, “gave us a mental edge and inspiration.”
And McDavitt played as if inspired in the ultimate 2-0 Crimson triumph, rewriting the Harvard record books in the process.
She assisted on the first goal of the game, a penalty corner, which gave her the new single-season assists record in Crimson field hockey history.
“She’s not just this All-Star trying to do it all herself,” captain midfielder Kate Gannon added. “She’s trying to set up her teammates. It’s a testament to the type of player that she is.”
Then, for the Crimson’s second goal, McDavitt was pivotal once again. But this time, she was the one being set up.
Normally a midfielder, McDavitt moved up to forward in the second half in an attempt by Harvard coach Sue Caples to convert on the offensive opportunities her team had enjoyed all game but failed to capitalize on. With 5:44 left, McDavitt weaved her way through the Lions defense and scored the goal that put the game out of reach and secured the Ivy title.
“I just wanted it so bad,” McDavitt said. “I was doing everything I could to get us to the next level.”
And what makes McDavitt’s milestone effort all the more impressive is that it happened a in spite of an ankle injury that she suffered in practice earlier in the week.
But according to her teammates, this type of grit is commonplace for McDavitt.
“She brings so much to the team. She has as much energy and enthusiasm as anyone I’ve ever seen and she throws herself into everything she does,” Gannon said. “She loves field hockey—Harvard field hockey—so much.”
That much seems to be in the genes. McDavitt, a native of nearby Walpole, Mass., has her parents and grandparents in the crowd to cheer her on at nearly every home game.
“I have a great support system,” McDavitt said. “It’s nice to know that people are backing you no matter what.”
Despite the personal accolades she has received, however, for the moment, McDavitt is more concentrated on the team’s accomplishments and the NCAA Tournament that begins this weekend.
Just winning the Ivy League title—the team’s first since 1991—is a tremendous source of pride.
“It’s surreal,” McDavitt said. “It’s been so long, we’ve worked so hard, and after a frustrating freshman and sophomore year, it makes this one that much sweeter.”
Now a record-setter herself, McDavitt may prove to be the key to her team reaching more historic heights in the playoffs.
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