With only three minutes left in the game, the Harvard women’s field hockey team was down 0-3. Drenched in the pouring rain, it looked as if they were going to be shutout for the second time of the season.
Two goals by the Crimson in the last three minutes changed that.
The first of these was scored by senior back Elizabeth Jacobson on a penalty corner with 2:59 to go. On a play the team has been working on in practice, Jacobson faked a forward shot, lost her defender, and then in one smooth motion turned around and slid a laser backhand into the back of the net. It was Jacobson’s ninth goal of the season, a career-high for her, and the 22nd goal of her career, which places her [10th] all-time among Harvard women’s field hockey players.
“This is the first season Eli has been fully fit, and now she’s a great threat on our forward line and strong against any opponent,” said head coach Tjerk van Herwaarden. “She’s proven to be really effective this season.”
Jacobson’s goal, though, still wasn’t enough for Harvard (7-7, 2-3 Ivy) to overcome a strong team from Boston University (12-5), currently ranked No. 17 in the nation, on Wednesday. Despite the loss, though—which extended their losing streak to four—the Crimson remain in high spirits.
“BU is a very strong team every year, so we came in knowing we had to come out with a lot of energy,” Jacobson said. “I think we gave them a good run for their money.”
The Terriers’ win can largely be attributed to their dominant first half, which featured them scoring two goals to Harvard’s zero and holding possession for most of the period. Particularly notable was the play of Terrier senior midfielder Sofi Laurito, who scored the first goal of the game—and her 10th of the season—11 minutes into play. Laurito, the reigning Patriot Offensive Player of the Year, currently leads the Terriers in season goals, and scored or assisted on all three of the Terriers goals on the night.
The third of these goals came with a bit of luck and a bit of skill. After bouncing around from player to player near Harvard’s net, the ball eventually came to the stick of Laurito, who then fired it smoothly into the back of the net.
In contrast to BU’s strong first period, Harvard only attempted a shot twice in the half, both of which came as desperation heaves within the last three minutes of the period.
“The heavy rain and wind definitely did impact us the first half,” Jacobson said. “But the second half we just knew we were down 0-3 and had to fight.”
The Crimson picked up the pace on both ends of the field in the second half, though, attempting eight shots—four of which were on goal—and holding the Terriers to one goal. The last two shots of the period were the most successful for the Crimson, with Jacobson and junior forward Marissa Balleza, respectively, finding the back of the net. Indeed, Harvard’s last goal came in the form of a penalty stroke—Harvard’s first of the season—just as time was expiring. With the goal, Balleza now has a team-leading 11 on the season and 32 for her career, tied for fourth all-time among Crimson players.
Harvard has struggled offensively over the last few games, only scoring a combined four goals. Van Herwaarden, though, finds promise in how the Crimson managed to close out Wednesday’s game.
“The last 20 minutes here and the whole second half proved we are capable of playing a very good game of hockey and we need to be more adamant about our goal-scoring,” van Herwaarden said. “Once we got those things in place, we’re looking to half a bright ending to the season.”
With the loss, Harvard dropped to .500 for the season.
In Second Season in Charge, Van Herwaarden Wants MoreWhen Van Herwaarden arrived in Cambridge last year, he brought with him a new system in hopes of changing the direction of the Crimson’s field hockey program.
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