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In a span of less than 48 hours, the Harvard women’s lacrosse team experienced an emotional rollercoaster.
Playing in the first round of the Ivy League tournament on May 6, the Crimson (10-6, 5-2 Ivy) was set to square off against No. 10 Dartmouth—a squad that dealt Harvard a 14-7 loss to in its regular season finale just one week prior.
But round two had a different outcome.
Trailing 9-8 with less than seven minutes to play, the Crimson needed one last push to keep its season alive. As it had done throughout the season, Harvard saved its best for last.
With 6:32 to go, junior tri-captain Melanie Baskind evened the score, going unassisted for the goal. Two more scores gave the Crimson its first lead since the contest’s opening minutes, and Harvard punched its ticket to the Ivy League championship game with an 11-10 victory.
But the championship contest two days later proved to be the end of the line.
Squaring off against a Princeton squad the Crimson had already defeated in the regular season, Harvard fell behind early, trailing 7-3 at halftime. The Crimson managed to get back into the game, pulling within one thanks to a 4-1 run to open the second frame.
And with 11:16 to play, sophomore Danielle Tetreault gave Harvard its first lead of the game, 10-9.
But the Crimson couldn’t hold on.
The Tigers answered 16 seconds later, and then regained the lead with 9:24 to play.
Princeton kept the Crimson off the scoreboard for the remainder of the contest, grabbing a 12-10 win and denying Harvard its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994.
“It was disappointing,” Tetreault said. “It was a tough loss because it was a game we knew we could have won. I think it was a game that kind of got out of our reach. On another day, it could have ended differently, but it just wasn’t going for us that day.”
Despite the disappointing finish, the squad was pleased with the improvements it made during its 2011 campaign.
“It didn’t work out like we had hoped [in the championship], but we weren’t even there last year,” Baskind said. “To look at the strides that we made was pretty impressive, I think.”
In 2011, the Crimson finished with 10 victories—marking the first time it has reached double-figure wins since 1994—and reached the Ivy League Tournament after missing out on the inaugural competition by one game in 2010.
“I think we did very well this season,” Tetreault said. “We knew going into it we had the potential to be a great team and go far this year, and I think we showed that we matured throughout the year.”
Harvard was led by its potent attack, which featured six different players who finished the season with at least 10 goals. The Crimson finished the year atop the Ancient Eight in scoring average at 12.19 goals per game.
Sophomore attack Jennifer VanderMeulen led the conference in scoring for the second year in a row, while Tetreault finished third.
“’We’re so well rounded offensively,” Tetreault said. “Everyone on the attack is a threat, and when a team can’t just guard your star player, that really helps you.”
Behind its strong offense, the Crimson was able to hang with some of the nation’s top competition in 2011. Harvard fell by just a goal to then-No. 6 Stanford, then-No. 4 Penn, and then-No. 7 Virginia, while earning wins over then-No. 10 Dartmouth and then-No. 12 Princeton.
Returning all but one player—senior Sam McMahon—from its 2011 squad the future looks bright for the Crimson in 2012.
“I think [the 2011 season] was a big stepping stone,” Baskind said. “We’re at an exciting stage in the program and just really looking forward to the future.”
—Staff writer Martin Kessler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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