Every athlete hopes to end his or her career on a high note.
The Harvard women’s field hockey forward and co-captain Elizabeth Jacobson did just that.
The senior scored twice as the Crimson (9-8, 4-3 Ivy) finished off its season with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Columbia (9-8, 3-4) on Sunday afternoon.
“It felt really nice,” Jacobson said. “Having the support of the team, with everyone playing so well, was great. The passes from the backfield set me up perfectly, so I couldn’t have done it without my team. It was an amazing way to end the season, and end my career.”
Jacobson’s brace put her at 13 goals on the year, a career-high that ties her for fourth in the Ivy League. Her first goal, just 2:21 into the second half, doubled the lead to 2-0 and gave Harvard some breathing room. Her second, the result of a well-worked one-two with junior forward Marissa Balleza, came just eight minutes later and effectively buried the Lions.
“[Elizabeth] has been fantastic,” coach Tjerk van Herwaarden said. “She’s been great the whole season, and I think she showed her importance again today. She’s a huge part of our offensive plan… teams get confidence from having players like her, and she’s been a hugely valuable player for us the whole entire season.”
Balleza, who led the Crimson with 32 points this season, notched her 13th goal of the year to get the scoring started. Midway through the first half, she converted a penalty stroke to finally break down Columbia’s stubborn defense, opening the proverbial floodgates for the rest of the contest. The Severna Park, M.D. native—who led all Ivy League juniors in points this season—scored in five out of the squads’s seven Ancient Eight matchups this season, despite not being 100 percent healthy throughout much of the 17-game campaign.
“Marissa is a great, fantastic player for us,” van Herwaarden said. “She’s able to pick up the ball in midfield and shake defenders quite easily, scoring at decisive moments. Every single team we play knows her, is scared of her, and I think that makes her more valuable for the team.”
With the Lions trying to play catch-up for the rest of the game after Jacobson’s second made it 3-0, Harvard was able to capitalize on the resulting gaps in their defense. With just under ten minutes remaining, sophomore midfielder Hannah Wellington tacked on the Crimson’s fourth by redirecting junior forward Clare McClintock’s centering pass past Columbia goalkeeper Kimberly Pianucci.
Freshman forward Kathleen Young, named to the United States Under-19 national team this summer, added gloss to the scoreline with under 30 seconds remaining. The rookie smacked home a rebound to grab her fifth goal of the season and Harvard’s fifth and final tally of the game.
The defense, led by senior goalkeeper Issy Davies and co-captain defender Caroline Code, shut out Columbia’s attack in what was a full, disciplined 70-minute shift. Tasked with defending Lions senior Christina Freibott, second in the Ivy League with 35 points, the Crimson defense came out confident, limiting her to just two shots on goal. The Lion standout averaged more than two points per game on the year, even ate rbeing held scoreless on Sunday.
“Izzy stepped up,” said Van Herwaarden. “She is a tremendous goalkeeper, especially her reaction time. It makes her very special.”
Following last weekend’s 4-1 win over Dartmouth, the back-to-back victories put Harvard fourth in the conference and mark the first time the team has finished over .500 in back-to-back season since 2003-2004.
For the seniors—Jacobson, Davies, and Code among others—it ensures a positive end to their Harvard careers after a string of up-and-down seasons. After the senior class saw the team finish with sub-.500 records through their first two years, the senior class ended its career with the team with 10 and nine wins, respectively.
“Those losses were killer, but that’s what comes with the Ivy League,” Jacobson said. “You never know who’s gonna show up, and there were some bumps in the road, but we wanted to end the season on a high note. We, especially the seniors, knew we had to give everything… there was never a chance that we’d give up.”
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