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Field Hockey Sweeps Weekend with Dominant Defense

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Freshman Rachel Greenwood found the net for her first career goal on Sunday against Bryant.
Not once this season has a Harvard field hockey opponent scored at the team’s home turf, Berylson Field. That didn’t change this weekend, as the hosts downed Bryant, 2-0, in front of a friendly crowd following a 2-1 victory at Penn the day before.

On the heels of the best 10-game start in program history, the No. 12 Division I program racked up its fifth and sixth straight wins over the weekend.

HARVARD 2, BRYANT 0

The Crimson (9-1, 2-0 Ivy) traveled back home for a game against Bryant (2-9) on Sunday. In spite of the limited rest, Harvard had a strong all-around performance against Bryant and came away with a shutout win, its fifth of the fall. On an assist from junior midfielder Casey Allen and senior midfielder Emily Duarte, senior back Olivia Allin scored her first goal of the weekend 19 minutes into the game.

The team tallied another point in the second half, this time on an unassisted goal from freshman forward Rachel Greenwood over the goalie pad. As usual, the Crimson played excellent defense, holding Bryant to zero shots, and complemented their defense with 31 shots on offense —16 of which were on goal — cutting out a large chunk of work for Bulldogs goalie Marjin Jaarsma.

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“Our defense was solid today, we kept them to zero shots on goal,” senior midfielder Victoria Boylett said. “We were able to use the width to get some good passing patterns moving forward.”

The win was also somewhat symbolic and uplifting for the team, given the hectic schedule.

“We had to show that we can step up, that we’re a top team, even if we’re tired, even if it’s not an Ivy League game, and we did just that,” Allin said. “We have a lot of talent, freshmen who are starting, every player on the bench and on the field is strong, we can distribute the ball well; every layer of the team is doing its job well.”

HARVARD 2, PENN 1

Harvard routed Yale 6-0 last week in its first Ancient Eight game but found Penn to be a more formidable opponent. After a scoreless first half, the team struck early in the second behind a conversion from junior midfielder Bente van Vlijmen in the 39th minute. Van Vlijmen’s goal put her in the lead for most points in the Ivy League this season, with 23. The junior has been an offensive force for the team with those 23 points resulting from nine goals and five assists.

The Crimson couldn’t rest long though, as the Quakers evened the game just seven minutes later behind a goal off of a penalty. The match remained tied for the next 17 minutes before sophomore forward Natalie Sicher slung a shot past the goalie on an assist from freshman midfielder Kiley Allen with 7:30 left to play.

“We had some good transfers, defense really set up well, so that was a huge part of our game,” Allin said. “Also [we had] a fantastic goal by Natalie Sicher, straight into the top corner, which gave us the lead.”

Despite the close score, Harvard remained on the offensive for most of the game, attempting eight shots, three on goal, to Penn’s two shots, only one of which was on goal.  The Quakers drop to 4-5 — 1-1 in conference play — after the defeat.

“Yesterday’s game was tough,” Allin said. “Ivy League games are always tough, because there’s a lot of pressure on us.”

Harvard has a tough schedule ahead, playing at Brown on Friday and at Boston University on Sunday. The biggest game, though, will be on Oct. 20 at Princeton, a must-win contest against the fifth-ranked team nationally for the conference title. With results like this weekend’s, though, the Crimson has plenty to look forward to as the season moves into conference play.

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