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In its first Ivy home game at Jordan Field on Saturday, Harvard (3-3, 1-1 Ivy) got off to a hot start in the second half to bury Penn (1-6, 1-1), 4-1, and pick up its first league win of the season.
“It was a great team effort,” Crimson coach Sue Caples said. “People were able to contribute in a lot of ways, which is really very exciting. We have a lot of depth, and we were able to use that. We are six games in now, and we are starting to really gel with each other.”
The Crimson dominated time of possession from the start en route to numerous scoring opportunities, including a backhanded shot from co-captain Carly Dickson that the Quakers’ senior goalie Kieran Sweeney had to stop with a jumping save.
The home team finally scored when freshman Caitlin Rea faked out her defenders before finding freshman Noel Painter, who deflected the ball into the goal to give the Crimson a 1-0 lead 14 minutes into the game.
But Harvard was unable to stretch the lead despite a 12-3 shot advantage in the half.
Caples admitted that being up by just one goal in a game like this can put you on edge.
“It’s a funny game,” Caples said. “You can dominate, dominate, and it takes one to go down [when you have a one-goal lead]. We had a lot of opportunities in the first half, we would have liked to have had more to show for it.”
In order to better take advantage of its scoring opportunities, the Crimson had to make some adjustments at halftime.
“Sometimes we were just a little too stationary in the [defense],” sophomore Bridget McGillivray said. “We needed to manipulate the defenders more, move them around, and throw them off.”
Harvard obtained much more to show for its effort very early in the second half.
Just 1:14 into the second period, Dickson scored off a penalty stroke, placing the ball perfectly in the top left corner of the goal.
A little over a minute later, the Crimson added to its 2-0 lead when sophomore Mariah Pewarski scored off an assist from Dickson.
It did not take long for Harvard to strike again.
About two and a half minutes later, Bridget McGillivray redirected a pass from her sister, co-captain Georgia McGillivray, after a corner.
“It was from my sister again,” the sophomore said. “She swept it in far post, and I was just there waiting for it.”
The Crimson was clearly pleased with its effort to begin the second half.
“Our start of the second half was excellent,” Dickson said. “It was the best start of any half we’ve had so far.”
“We were just stringing together all of our passing sequences and moving up the field quickly,” Bridget McGillivray said.
Penn did show signs of life in the second half after the fury of goals, but Harvard kept the Quakers off the board until Penn sophomore Julie Tahan scored off a penalty stroke with 16:41 left in the game.
“I think we had a lull after our goals,” Dickson said. “I think we’re young, and we need to learn how to maintain that energy when we’re up that much.”
Caples, who was shocked that the Quakers ended up with more shots in the second half than the Crimson, echoed the co-captain’s feelings.
“We got a little careless defensively that gave them some opportunities,” Caples said. “We have to learn how to keep attacking and playing our game.”
Though the Quakers outshot Harvard in the second half, the Crimson still won the overall count. Harvard ended up with 23 shots for the game compared to Penn’s 15.
Junior Cynthia Tassopoulos had six saves for the Crimson.
Despite the 4-1 victory on Saturday, Caples still sees areas in which Harvard can improve.
“We definitely need to give up less on the defensive side,” Caples said. “We gave up at least two corners for being within five yards, which is careless.”
Despite the defensive lapses, there seems to be optimism coming from the Crimson side.
“I think everyone had a lot of energy going in,” Dickson said. “It’s always different to play an Ivy game, especially on your home turf, so everyone was pretty excited. I think we had a strong overall [performance].”
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