Coming into its final game of the regular season, No. 16 Harvard field hockey knew that it had a chance to rewrite the record books. In last week’s win against Dartmouth, the Crimson tied the program record with its 12th win of the year. Thanks to a standout performance by freshman forward Mimi Tarrant, Harvard (13-4, 6-1 Ivy League) beat Columbia (9-8, 4-3 Ivy), 4-0, in New York, N.Y. to pick up a 13th victory and set a new mark for single-season wins.
After beginning the game with a barrage of shots, Harvard scored the opening goal in the sixth minute. Freshman forward Natalie Sicher played a pass to Tarrant, whose shot from close range beat the goalkeeper to open the scoring.
Following the goal, the Crimson kept up its attack, peppering Columbia junior goalkeeper Katie Dempsey with shots. Harvard outshot the Lions, 9-0, and took six penalty corners in the opening half. However, despite its offensive efforts, the Crimson was unable to net another goal before halftime.
On the other end of the field, Harvard was similarly dominant on defense in the first stanza, stifling the Lions offense and preventing Columbia from getting a single shot off on net. As a result, the teams went into the break with Harvard leading, 1-0.
The second period opened in much the same way as the first, with the Crimson firing off seven shots in the first 10 minutes of play. While Columbia managed its first shot of the contest in the 38th minute, Harvard’s defense clamped down shortly thereafter. That shot would remain the Lions’ only attempt on goal of the matchup.
Harvard managed to double its lead in the 54th minute. Freshman back Hannah Pearce took a penalty corner but saw her effort on net saved by Dempsey. Sophomore forward Maddie Earle collected the redirected shot and fired off her own attempt, which was blocked. Earle stuck with the play, however, recovering her blocked shot and rifling home a second effort for the score.
“It stayed at 1-0 for a long time because they did a great job keeping the ball out of the cage,” said sophomore midfielder Bente van Vlijmen. “We just needed that extra boost to get the second goal. After that, we really had the drive to score more goals.”
Harvard wouldn’t have to wait as long for its next tally. In the 56th minute, Tarrant took the ball and made a run down the right side of the field. She found van Vlijmen with a pass to the center of the field, and the sophomore’s shot hit the back of the net for the goal.
Not content with a 3-0 lead, the Crimson pressed on with its attack. In the 61st minute, Tarrant found her way onto the scoresheet again, as she converted off of a pass from freshman midfielder Tessel Huibregsten. The goal is Tarrant’s 12th of the season, making her the team’s leading scorer.
Following the goal, Harvard fired off several more shots, but the team was not able to add to its tally, and the game ultimately ended as a 4-0 victory. The win sees the Crimson break the mark set by last year’s team for victories in a single season.
“It’s proved that we’re heading in the right direction with the program overall,” said Harvard coach Tjerk van Herwaarden. “Moreso, its a testament to the work that our athletes are putting in every day. It’s nice to get a couple confirmations that we’re doing the right things.”
Following today’s result, Harvard will turn to the bigger picture—the NCAA Division I playoffs. The team will be tuning in at 10 pm on Sunday night, as the selection announcements for this year’s tournament will be broadcast. The Crimson hopes that it can build off of its momentum from the regular season as the playoffs pick up.
“We definitely have a chance to make it,” van Vlijmen said. “All we want to do is play more games with our team. We want to prove that we have become better, and we want to get the chance to compete. We’re not done yet, and we showed that today.”
—Staff writer Sean B. Chanicka can be reached at email@example.com.
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