The Harvard women’s lacrosse team had an automatic NCAA tournament bid snatched away from it in a heartbreaking 12-10 loss to Princeton on Sunday.
The Crimson took a late lead after a dramatic comeback in the second period overcame a five-goal deficit. But Princeton’s late run gave it the win, the Ivy League title, and a NCAA tournament berth.
Two days earlier, Harvard (10-6, 5-2 Ivy) defeated No. 10 Dartmouth (11-4, 6-1) in the semifinals before losing to the Tigers (11-6, 5-2) in the Ivy League championship game at Penn’s Franklin Field.
“I’m incredibly proud of this team,” tri-captain Sam McMahon said. “We have had a great season, and we played hard in the Ivy tournament all the way through the championship game.”
PRINCETON 12, HARVARD 10
In Sunday’s championship game, Harvard faced Princeton, a team that fell to the Crimson eariler in the season in a highly-contested matchup. This time around was more of the same, with the game coming down to the final period but leading to the opposite result.
The Crimson stormed back after falling behind 5-0 early to take a 10-9 lead halfway through the second half. But the Tigers responded with three unanswered scores to give Princeton the victory.
“We put ourselves in a very difficult position going down early,” Baskind said. “But [we] are proud of the way we fought back. Our tough schedule has prepared us for situations like that—it was just disappointing to let it happen again.”
Harvard scored consecutive tallies after the initial Tiger run, but Princeton came back with two goals of its own making to push lead back to five.
Even though the Crimson was down, 7-3, at the half, Harvard felt it would be able to get back into the game.
“We knew that it was our fault for the hole we were in at the end of the first half,” McMahon said. “We weren’t burying our shots and executing the defensive game plan, so with those adjustments, we knew we could get back into the game.”
The Crimson came out strong in the second half with three unanswered goals, cutting the Tigers lead to 7-6.
“We finished our shots in the second half,” Baskind said. “I think we played well defensively, and [junior] Kerry Clark had some huge saves.”
Later in the period, Harvard completed the comeback off a 3-0 run with the last two scores coming from sophomore Danielle Tetreault, who had four goals on the day.
The team’s goal of making the NCAA tournament for the fist time since 1994 was within reach, but in the end, the Tigers were able to execute their offense and pull out the victory.