Following its victory against Boston University earlier in the week, Harvard field hockey returned to Ivy league action on Saturday to face off against Dartmouth. In a tale of two halves, the Crimson overcame a first half lead by the Big Green (7-9, 2-4 Ivy) to win, 6-2.
At the start of the game, Harvard (12-4, 5-1) sought to intimidate its opponent with its attack, as the Crimson fired off three shots in the first five minutes of play. These attempts, however, were turned away by a series of saves from Dartmouth goalkeeper Hailey Valerio. Following Harvard’s offensive onslaught, Dartmouth responded. In the 10th minute, the Big Green got on the scoreboard as forward Gemma Bautista received a pass and fired her shot into the back of the net.
Following the goal, Harvard looked to get back into the game. The Crimson fired off six shots over the next ten minutes. Once again, however, Valerio was there to prevent a tying goal. Dartmouth only needed one shot to double its lead. In the 24th minute, Bautista popped up again, collecting a redirected shot and scoring her second goal of the day.
Facing a 2-0 deficit, Harvard had the option to wilt and accept the loss. However, as it has done for the majority of the season, the team showed its resiliency in the face of a challenge. In the 27th minute, senior midfielder Ellie Cookson saw her pass redirected by a Dartmouth defender. However, freshman forward Mimi Tarrant managed to collect the pass and beat Valerio with her shot to put the Crimson on the board.
Neither team managed to score for the remainder of the half, and the score remained 2-1 in favor of the Big Green. The team went into the half having missed several opportunities, and the scoreline could have easily been reversed in the Crimson’s favor.
“We weren’t playing at the caliber we had set,” senior goalkeeper Olivia Startup said. “We thought we were allowing Dartmouth to dictate the rhythm of the game more than we wanted. We were getting lots of opportunities - we had a lot of penalty corners in the first half - but we weren’t able to finish our chances.”
Harvard began the second half much in the same way as the first, with a series of shots on net. This time, however, those attempts proved more successful. In the 38th minute, sophomore midfielder Bente van Vlijmen collected a pass on the right from a penalty corner. Van Vlijmen then fired off a great shot to tie the game at 2-2.
The Crimson didn’t have to wait long for its next goal. In the 45th minute, freshman midfielder Tessel Huibregtsen extended the team’s lead to 3-2. On the play, Huibregtsen took off on a 20 yard run downfield before finishing from close for the score. The goal gave Harvard its first lead of the contest.
“There was a lot of confidence going into the second half that we could turn this around,” Startup said. “We knew that we could make the second half our game.”
In the 55th minute, junior midfielder Victoria Boylett played a long pass to Tarrant, who was waiting at the top of the circle. Tarrant then turned, shot, and scored her second goal of the game to extend Harvard’s lead to 2 goals.
Just two minutes later, sophomore forward Maddie Earle collected a pass from Tarrant and saw her shot beat Valerio for the score. Despite now leading by 3 goals, Harvard continued its assault on net, firing off three shots in the next three minutes. This attack culminated in the team’s final goal of the contest, as Cookson played a pass to junior back Olivia Allin for the score. The assist was Cookson’s tenth of the year and adds to her record for career assists (which now sits at 34).
With Saturday’s result, the Crimson improves its record to 12-4, which ties the program record set last year for total wins in a season. As Harvard travels to Columbia next weekend for its final regular season game, it has a chance to take sole possession of the record.
“It’s always something on people’s minds,” co-captain Hannah Wellington said. “You’re always looking for new goals to set for the season. Again, we talk about taking every game as it comes because we want to be at the right mental state. That means focusing on ourselves and what we can do while not focusing on the big picture too much.”
—Staff writer Sean B. Chanicka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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