If a team’s opening game sets the tone for its season, then the Harvard women’s lacrosse team is on track for a successful year.
The Crimson (1-0) kicked off its season in decisive fashion on Saturday, riding a dominant offensive performance to an 18-11 win over the University of New Hampshire (0-1) in Durham, N.H.
“Overall, the team played together as a unit,” junior midfielder Julia Glynn said. “Being our first game, there are definitely things that will need adjusting. However, there were also a lot of things that looked great. It was an exciting first game and a great team win.”
Despite the uneven final scoreline, Harvard got off to a slow start. UNH found the back of the Crimson net just over a minute after the opening whistle, and the Wildcats would hold that lead for much of the first half.
The second stanza was a different story, as Harvard’s attack exploded for 10 goals to pull away from UNH. Leading the effort were senior attacker Marisa Romeo and sophomore midfielder Keeley MacAfee, who each picked up four scores and an assist.
Spearheaded by the duo, the Crimson offense overwhelmed UNH’s defensive unit. Although the Wildcats were more efficient in front of goal, scoring 11 times on 23 chances, Harvard shot nearly twice as much, taking 43 over the course of the game.
The Crimson also dominated every other attacking statistic. Harvard picked up 23 ground balls to its opponent’s 12 and went three-for-five on free position chances, while the Wildcats only converted once on the same number of free position opportunities. The Crimson’s 18 draw controls also outdid UNH’s 13.
Cruising behind the efforts of its red-hot offense, Harvard was able to put the game to bed with ease in the second stanza despite a nervy first half characterized by frequent lead changes.
After UNH opened the scoring just 83 seconds into the match, tri-captain attacker Maeve McMahon leveled for the Crimson. The Wildcats found the back of the net again two minutes later, but Romeo dragged Harvard even once again with the first of her three game-tying goals over the course of the afternoon.
Romeo would knot the score at 4-4 later in the half after sophomore attacker Nicole Baiocco converted a free position shot to bring the Crimson within one point.
Baiocco, MacAfee, and McMahon each chipped in a finish before Romeo equalized yet again with two seconds remaining in the first half, sending the teams into the break with eight goals each.
The unassisted conversion from Romeo capped a turbulent final three minutes of the opening stanza. With 2:57 left in the period, UNH senior attacker Devon Croke scored twice to bring the Wildcats level and then give them the lead, before Romeo snapped the opposition’s scoring run in the final moments of the half.
Riding the momentum of Romeo’s goal, the Harvard defense picked up its game after the restart. The Crimson cut UNH’s production rate in half as it limited the Wildcats to a mere seven shots in the second stanza. With the Harvard back line hindering UNH’s efforts on goal, junior goalkeeper Meredith Brown was only forced to make two of her seven total saves in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Crimson attack had found another gear, improving on its shot total from the first half as it buried the Wildcats with three unanswered goals in the first five minutes.
MacAfee and Romeo each collected another finish, and freshman midfielder Katie Muldoon scored the first goal of her Harvard career. Glynn also scored what would turn out to be the game-winning point to push the Crimson’s lead to four, 12-8.