The Harvard women’s field hockey team suffered yet another close loss to Dartmouth this Saturday at Chase Astroturf field. For the third time this season, the Crimson lost in overtime after putting on a strong defensive performance during regulation. In the sixth minute of overtime, with both teams scoreless, Big Green sophomore Lisa Masini took the ball into the Harvard circle, spun one way to draw Crimson goalie Cynthia Tassopoulos, and put the ball past the sophomore into the left corner of the net for the game-winner.
Harvard (3-13, 1-5 Ivy) could not break its eight-game losing streak, and with the loss, dropped to the bottom of the conference. Dartmouth (9-6, 3-3 Ivy), on the other hand, snapped out of its own four-game losing streak to establish itself firmly in the middle of the conference.
“It was definitely a huge step up from the BC game,” sophomore Kim Goh said, “and from a lot of other games we’ve played. We put together a lot of pieces we tried to work on throughout the season. It was definitely a hard-fought game, and we put a lot into it, but it didn’t come out our way in the end. We were definitely happy with the way we executed the game plan and worked together to pull off a team effort.”
From beginning to end, the game was a stalemate between two very aggressive defenses. Neither team could get its offense flowing due to the quickness of the other team’s interceptions and counterattacks.
“Practically, we had a lot of great defensive intercepts,” Goh said. “What allowed us to do that was because the forwards really understood their role in putting on good pressure on the defense that threw away bad passes, and our midfielders and defenders could pick those up and start up a counterattack. We had a lot more goal-scoring opportunities than we have in the past that came off the counterattacks.”
The Big Green held a slight edge in shots, 10-8, and in penalty corners, 8-5, but could not capitalize on any of its opportunities. Just a minute before Masini’s game-winner, Dartmouth senior Kelly McHenry had a chance to end it early with a great look to the goal, but Tassopoulos made a great low save to keep the shutout going.
“Cynthia is basically the best player on the team,” freshman Mariah Pewarksi said. “She sees the whole field. She is the mind of us all and tells us where to go. She is the loudest out there. Besides helping us all out, she does her part really well, and she has a great percentage of saves.”
Tassopoulos made four saves throughout the game, and Big Green goalie junior Meagan Vakiener tallied three saves, all of which came from the desperate Crimson offense late in the second half. Harvard’s best chance came with a brilliant give-and-go play that fell just short as Vakiener made a critical kick save to send the game into overtime.
“There are fewer girls on the field [during overtime],” Pewarksi said. “Only six field players as opposed to 10. It was mentally draining. Since it’s sudden death, you try a lot harder and run a lot faster, because you know once you score it is over.”
Harvard co-captain KJ Warren made her season debut after missing time since 2008 due to injury, playing 11 minutes and getting one shot.
“It was awesome,” Goh said. “She was out all of last year. She brings a great energy to the team regardless of where she is, even if she is on the sideline, but to be able to play with her was awesome. In the [second-to-last] game of her collegiate athletic career, not only did she play well, but considering she hasn’t played in so long, she brought a lot to the field and to our defensive end. The energy and the excitement of being there to play gets everyone going and gives us an extra kick for us to remember why we want to play.”
—Staff writer James Yu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.