The Harvard field hockey team had luck on its side up north this weekend, earning two wins over the University of Maine and the University of Vermont at the Catamount Classic Tournament. The Crimson’s four-game win streak is the team’s best start to the season since 2005, when the squad also started off 4-0.
Harvard (4-0) snatched close wins from both of its New England counterparts, defeating both teams by a score of 2-1. In both games, the Crimson posted the first tally of the game, but was forced to come back after its respective opponents knotted the score, 1-1.
“Our first Ivy League game is on Saturday against Yale, and our goal for the game during preseason was to go into our first Ivy League match undefeated,” senior Noel Painter said. “This weekend we won both of our games so…it feels great, and we have a lot of momentum going into Ivy League play.”
HARVARD 2, VERMONT 1
After taking down Maine on Saturday, the Crimson needed a little extra time to earn its win over Vermont (1-5) on Sunday, and remained undefeated on the season.
“As long as we just keep the work at the level we’ve been doing I think we’re going to have a great season,” Harvard coach Tjerk van Herwaarden said. “From the seniors to the freshmen, I think we have a really well-balanced competitive environment, and I think that will keep us on our toes for the next few months.”
One day after collecting both assists to help Harvard grab the victory against the Black Bears, freshman Ellie Cookson came through once again, scoring unassisted nine minutes into sudden-death overtime. Cookson cut through the Catamount defense and fired a shot from three yards out, where it ricocheted off the defense and into the goal.
“[In overtime], we really wanted to focus on playing our game, and staying composed and controlled,” Painter said. “Our goal was just to...keep numbers behind the ball, really just try and only make runs when we had those opportunities, and not running past the ball a lot, and it worked.”
Painter earned her second goal of the season at the 25-minute mark, collecting the rebound from freshman Hannah Wellington’s shot and snaking the ball into the lower right corner of the net to put Harvard up by one.
The Crimson had 12 shots in the second half but was unable to capitalize, allowing Vermont to tie the game in the 58th minute. The game remained scoreless for the remainder of regulation, forcing the overtime period.
HARVARD 2, MAINE 1
In its first game of the tournament, Harvard continued its winning ways, extending its win streak to three games after a victory over Maine (0-6).
Despite being outshot, 18-7, by the Black Bears, the Crimson managed to come out on top in large part due to the strong play of junior goalkeeper Issy Davies. Davies had a career-high nine saves to preserve the win for Harvard.
After a largely back-and-forth first half led to a one-goal advantage for the Crimson, Maine responded just two minutes after the break with a goal of its own. Harvard didn’t take long to strike again, however, and Cookson found sophomore Marissa Balleza on a fast break to assist on what would prove to be the game-winning goal.
Wellington continued her stellar college debut, putting Harvard on the board near the end of the first half after 33 minutes of scoreless play. The rookie sent the ball past the Maine goalkeeper from the top of the arc for her third goal of the season.
“We’re definitely getting better at giving each other lots of options,” Painter said. “If somebody’s on the ball there’s always another player cutting to the left or right or forward, and we’re trying to be open and really stretch the field wide and long…. We made the hard runs and just did a lot more work off ball [this week], and I think that helped us come away with both wins.”
—Staff writer Glynis K. Healey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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