After starting the year on a two-game winning streak, Harvard field hockey won only one of its next 15 contests, finishing the year 3-14 overall and 1-6 in the Ivy League.
This is the sixth consecutive season that the Crimson has failed to win at least half of its games, a streak dating back to a 12-5 campaign in 2004.
“Obviously the season didn’t go as well as we would have liked,” junior co-captain Carly Dickson said. “We had a lot of injuries and had to deal with a small team for most of the year.”
But there were a few bright spots in the 2010-2011 year for Harvard field hockey. Dickson was named to the All-Ivy second team – her third All-Ivy recognition in as many years. The junior played a key role in the Crimson attack, leading the team in shots (38) and finishing third in total points (nine).
Sophomore goalie Cynthia Tassopoulos also earned the second-team accolade after a solid year in goal. The sophomore stopped 72.5 percent of shots that came her way, the third-highest mark in the Ancient Eight. She was a constant presence for Harvard between the pipes, playing every minute of every game.
And junior Georgia McGillivray received an All-Ivy honorable mention as well. McGillivray will also be joining Dickson as co-captain next season after the departure of graduating co-captain KJ Warren.
“In spite of some of the struggles on the field, it was really a great four years,” senior Chloe Keating said. “The group of girls in my class is awesome; I’m going to miss them.”
The season started in dominant fashion with the Crimson beating Holy Cross and Bryant, 6-1 and 5-2 respectively, in a homestand during the first weekend of September. But things quickly took a turn for the worse after a road trip to Vermont and New Hampshire resulted in three losses and only two Harvard goals. The lackluster Crimson offense would characterize much of the rest of the season. In addition to being shut out nine times, Harvard finished seventh in the Ivy League in shots, goals scored, and goal differential.
“Having such a small team limited the number of substitutions we could make and really put our fitness to the test,” Dickson said. “We proved that we were in good enough shape to play 60 minutes, but sometimes not having that extra burst limited our offensive opportunities.”
The highlight of the year came on Sept. 25 in an Ivy League game on the road at Penn. Dickson and McGillivray each scored once, and Tassopoulos got her first shutout of the season, giving the Crimson its only Ancient Eight victory.
“It’s always special to have an Ivy League win,” Dickson said. “Especially early in the season and on the road.”
It would turn out to be the last win of the season, sparking a nine-game losing streak to finish the year.
Despite the disappointment of the season on the whole, the future looks bright for Harvard. Not only is a talented freshman class coming to campus in the fall, but coach Sue Caples also implemented new training measures in the offseason.
“In the winter, when we’re usually confined to the weight room and conditioning because of the snow, we played indoor field hockey for the first time,” Dickson said. “It really helps our defending and first touch on the ball.”
The Crimson also instituted a new offensive system which yielded positive results in two unofficial spring tournaments with Boston-area teams. All of this contributes to a sense of optimism on the team that should translate into more positive results on the field next season, despite losing three seniors from an already undersized squad.
“It’s sad to see the seniors go, and we’re definitely going to miss them,” Dickson said. “But at the same time, we’re looking forward to integrating the new freshman class into the team and are constantly looking to improve. Our morale is high moving forward.”
—Staff writer Alexander Koenig can be reached at email@example.com.