Grit. Determination. Whatever you call it, it’s a value that the Harvard women’s lacrosse team considers essential.
Indeed, head coach Lisa Miller said in an earlier interview that two of the most important things she looks for from her team are “psychological toughness and persistence.”
Those intangible qualities were on full display Saturday, as the Crimson (5-3, 2-0 Ivy League) outlasted Columbia (5-4, 1-2 Ivy) in a scrappy, back and forth contest at Harvard Stadium to win, 10-8. The victory marks the team’s fourth game this season that has been decided by two points or fewer.
“Our kids scrap and hustle,” Miller said. “If shots are not falling we lean on our ride and defense. There are many ways to be successful in this game if your trust each other and play as a team, this we proved on Saturday.”
Although the final result was a successful one for Harvard, it did not come easily.
The Crimson got into repeated foul trouble, committing 34 infractions, its second-highest total for a single game this year. Columbia only posted 25.
Harvard also had its least efficient offensive performance of the season, scoring just 28 percent of its 36 shots. Tellingly, the Crimson failed to convert on any of its three free position chances, while the Lions scored on two of their five opportunities.
However, Columbia only mustered 17 total efforts on frame, and Harvard capitalized early on its shots advantage. Senior attacker Marisa Romeo scored with a rip to the bottom corner less than three minutes into the first half.
The Lions didn’t take long to respond, though. Columbia found the back of the Crimson net just over a minute after Romeo’s opening goal to level the score at 1-1.
Although the Lions didn’t take the lead once, they would make sure that Harvard was never comfortable in its advantage, tying up the contest twice more over the course of the afternoon.
Nonetheless, the Crimson’s persistence paid off in the end, as Harvard overwhelmed Columbia in nearly every statistical category. The Crimson outdid its opponent in turnovers, draw controls, and clear percentage.
The Lions did top Harvard in saves, with Columbia junior goalkeeper Kelsey Gedin registering 14 stops, twice as many as the Crimson, but the barrage of Harvard shots proved too much for the Lions netminder.
It was Romeo in particular who caused trouble for Gedin and the Columbia defense.
The Syracuse, N.Y., native fired off eight shots throughout the game and her proficiency in front of the opposition net, particularly in the second half, proved decisive for the Crimson.
Romeo racked up a game-high four goals and two assists on the day. She also scored all three of Harvard’s goals in the second period to quash the Lions’ comeback attempt.