Down 2-1 since the midpoint of the second half, the Harvard women’s field hockey team kept generating corner chances against Brown.
Then the team couldn’t execute one corner. Then another. Then another.
But just when it appeared as if the Bears (5-6, 1-2 Ivy) would escape Jordan Field with the victory Saturday afternoon, a Crimson co-captain broke the scoring drought. On the fourth corner Harvard (7-3, 2-1) won in as many minutes, Elizabeth Jacobson took the ball on the edge of the shooting circle, faked left, and fired a shot into the bottom-right corner.
The 60th-minute goal proved to be the impetus that the Harvard offense needed to break through what was previously a stout Brown defense. The Crimson rode the momentum to two more goals in the next five minutes.
Another five minutes after that, the horn sounded and the Crimson had earned its first home victory in Ivy League play over the visiting Bears.
The 4-2 win was even sweeter for the players after last week’s overtime defeat to the Quakers.
“The loss at Penn—we took that really hard,” Jacobson said. “And we knew we couldn’t lose any more. These Ivy games are too important. That gave us a little more energy at the end today than we [had] last game.”
The contest had gone back and forth until the final minutes. Before Harvard put away an insurance goal with 3:26 remaining, no team had led by more than one at any point in the game. There was equal pressure applied by both teams, as the Bears narrowly outshot the Crimson offense, 14-13.
Despite the evenly matched contest overall, the second half featured much different action compared to the first. At the game’s outset, both Harvard and Brown were sluggish on the attack.
Combined, the two sides mustered just one shot on goal in the first 15 minutes, with fouls slowing down the pace of the action.
The Bears slowly came to life, however, attacking with more energy in the Crimson 25-yard area and winning several corners. Their newfound aggression soon paid off, with their leading scorer, senior midfielder Alexis Miller, turning home the first goal of the game off a corner.
Harvard, meanwhile, did not manage a shot during the opening 35 minutes.
“During the first half, we couldn’t find our rhythm,” Crimson coach Tjerk van Herwaarden said. “But second half, we were able to get the job done a lot easier. We were able to get more attacking motions going that luckily resulted in goals.”
The offensive onslaught could not have come at a more critical point of the season. Harvard had managed only three goals in its first two Ancient Eight matchups, riding a strong defense to a split of those two close, overtime affairs, topping Yale and falling to Penn.
In just 30 minutes against Brown, however, the offense emerged and bested that three-goal tally. In fact, the four goals scored by the Crimson in the second half matched the most goals the teamhas scored in any half this season.
Junior forward and leading scorer Marissa Balleza put Harvard on the board three minutes after halftime. The team piled players into Brown’s 25-yard area, sending several shots on frame before Balleza poked the ball into goal on a rebound.
“We came out of halftime with a different mindset.” Jacobson said. “First five minutes, we needed a goal. Then we’d focus on the next five minutes.”
Though the Crimson’s initial push proved successful, the Bears hit back within 10 minutes to retake the lead, 2-1. Harvard continued to push the ball into Brown territory in the second half, however, and tied the game once again on Jacobson’s goal.
Jacobson added another solo finish three minutes later, after receiving the ball off a corner and faking out two defenders. Sophomore midfielder Ellie Cookson then added a final goal against a tiring Brown defense with four minutes left to seal the 4-2 victory.
The final whistle marked the Crimson’s first non-overtime win of the season against an Ivy opponent as it enters the meat of its conference schedule.