The Harvard women’s lacrosse team was unable to overcome an early deficit en route to a dropped contest to Holy Cross (6-8, 2-2 Patriot League) on Wednesday night at Holy Cross Field, 17-12. The loss was the fourth straight for the Crimson (2-8, 1-3 Ivy).
Midfielder Laura Ryan led the offensive effort for the Crusaders with a game-high five goals on seven shots. The sophomore also doled out an assist on Holy Cross’ final goal of the game, and proved aggressive on the draw, winning five controls. Ryan was closely trailed by teammate Taylor Zebrowski, a senior attack whose four goals and three assists gave her a game-high seven points.
It was Ryan who opened the game with a successful free position shot in the first 45 seconds of the half. She and four other teammates would go on to score seven more unanswered goals, two during man-advantage situations, to bring the Crusaders to an early advantage, 8-0, with half the frame remaining. Holy Cross would retain their lead for the entire contest, with its size never shrinking to fewer than two goals.
“I think that’s a function of draw controls,” Crimson coach Lisa Miller said. “They won the early draw controls and got the ball down the field. They went to the cage really hard and we needed to step in front of them to push them out but we kept coming in from the side. We struggled to make a stop.”
Captain Micaela Cyr finally led Harvard onto the scoreboard on a free position attempt with 12:51 left in the first.
“I thought the kids fought back and managed to go on a run of their own again,” Miller said. “Again, it was draw controls. We shoot the ball pretty well so I’m pretty comfortable if we come up with a draw control and we’re on attack.”
Midfielders Catherine Brown, Nina Kucharczyk and Chelsey Newman, along with freshman attack Alexis Nicolia each found the back of the net to continue Harvard’s 5-0 spree, which ran to the half. The Crimson headed to the break down by just three.
The Crusaders received their sole yellow card of the contest three minutes into the second half. After a successful clear attempt by the Harvard squad, Holy Cross sophomore defenseman Sophia Agostinelli drew a major foul and put her team into its sole man-down situation of the game.
The Crimson capitalized on a depleted Crusader defense unit as Kucharczyk converted a free position attempt for her second goal of the contest to bring her team within two, 8-6. The senior scored a career-high four goals, leading all Harvard scorers.
“[Kucharczyk] is a fantastic athlete,” Miller said. “She can turn the corner and accelerate. She’s shooting the ball a little bit better this year. I think she’s been pretty steady and pretty consistent all year. She’s probably the best athlete on the team so it’s good to see her starting to gain confidence.”
The momentum stopped there, however, as Holy Cross completed a four-goal run over the next seven minutes. The two teams would trade points for the rest of the game, with the Crusaders’ lead hovering around five goals.
Holy Cross was aided by plenty of man-up situations through the second half of the closing stanza. Harvard drew eight yellow cards through the game, six of which came during the final 14 minutes of the game, and held an overall advantage in fouls, 24-20. Crimson players were, however, crafty on free position attempts, connecting with the back of the net on four of five tries. The Crusaders drew just one yellow card through all 60 minutes of play.
Holding an edge in shots, 32-27, and draw controls, 18-13, the Crimson attack and midfield units were able to penetrate the offensive zone, but unable to effectively evade Holy Cross goaltender Sarah Weber. Weber made seven saves as she spent the whole game in front of the net.
The loss comes in the middle of a six-game road effort for the Harvard team.
“I think ultimately it comes down to the draw controls,” Miller said. “We need to stay on attack as much as possible. We need to keep the ball on attack and get ground balls.”
—Staff writer Cordelia Mendez can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @CrimsonCordelia.
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