A late Cornell charge fell just short, allowing the Harvard women’s lacrosse team to come away with its first win of the season as the Crimson defeated the Big Red, 13-12, on Saturday at Schoellkopf Field.
“Cornell is a great Ivy League opponent, and it has always been an emotional game when we’ve played them,” tri-captain Sam McMahon said. “We knew this was going to be a physical, emotional, and mental game for both sides with [each team] giving all they can for 60 minutes.”
After taking a 13-8 lead with 7:33 remaining, the Big Red (1-2, 0-1 Ivy) stormed back with four goals, cutting the lead to 13-12 with 27 seconds remaining. But the Crimson (1-1, 1-0) held on, using the ensuing draw control to run out the clock and secure the win.
Harvard was led in scoring by sophomore Jennifer VanderMeulen and tri-captain Melanie Baskind, who had four and three goals, respectively.
“I just came into the game ready to go,” VanderMeulen said. “After losing to Stanford, we needed a big win, and Cornell was a great opportunity, especially being [an] Ivy [game]. I think I just fed off the energy of the big game.”
The match started off with a quick goal by VanderMeulen 34 seconds in. The Big Red’s Shannon McHugh struck back with two goals over the next five minutes, making the score 2-1 in Cornell’s favor.
The Crimson then went on a 3-0 run spanning two minutes with goals from Baskind, VanderMeulen, and freshman Jenn Leffew.
Over the next ten minutes of the game, both teams began trading goals, resulting in a 6-4 Harvard lead with 12:07 remaining in the first half.
Cornell responded with three consecutive goals capped off by another score from McHugh—who finished with a team-leading three goals.
Thanks to the late Big Red run, Cornell went into halftime up, 7-6.
“We needed to regain focus and work together collectively on both sides of the ball,” McMahon said. “There was a lack of communication and focus amongst the defense in the first half.”
The Crimson came out running to start the second half, scoring six consecutive goals, giving Harvard a commanding 12-5 lead with 13:50 remaining in the game.
Junior Jess Halpern, Baskind, and VanderMeulen each scored two goals in the run. VanderMeulen notched her first score off a free-position shot after being fouled going to goal, then converted a pass from freshman Chelsey Newman for her second.
“Going into the second half, I knew we needed a push because we were all a little deflated from being down by one,” VanderMeulen said. “I knew I had to step up and fill a leadership role on attack.”
The Crimson played solid defense as well, holding Cornell scoreless until 8:30 remained, when Big Red junior Olivia Knotts put one away.