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Women’s Lacrosse Looks to Start Hot at the Frosty Face Off

The Harvard women's lacrosse team will look to improve upon its solid 2023 performance.
The Harvard women's lacrosse team will look to improve upon its solid 2023 performance. By Courtesy of Harvard Athletics
By Hannah Bebar and Laura Connor, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard women’s lacrosse team approaches the 2024 season looking to build on its solid performance last season, which saw the squad finish third place in the Ivy League. With strong performances against Yale, Columbia, and Dartmouth, and two near losses to the Ivy League 2023 Tournament Champions, the Penn Quakers, the Crimson is set to return for the 2024 season with a hunger to improve upon last year’s success.

Returning captain and senior midfielder Ilana Kofman has high hopes and clear standards for the upcoming season.

“We come in with this goal of winning the Ivy Championship. That goal has not changed, and I think we are more excited this year to come in and showcase all the talent we have,” Koffman said. “We have so much young talent coming in with the freshman and so much talent that has not graduated just yet.”

Kofman stressed the importance of collaboration between returning players and rookies as a key for ensuring the success of the team. Kofman and her co-captain senior attacker Riley Campbell will be role models for their incoming freshman as they lead the charge for the 2024 campaign.

“It has been such an honor,” Kofman added. “I know Riley and I feel the same way about this but being voted by our teammates was so special, but I don’t think it has changed our role on the team. There are so many leaders that we play with, and with the help of everyone else, it has been fun to be in this new position.”

The Crimson is scheduled to face-off against its first opponent – the Colgate Raiders — this Saturday at noon. The Crimson-Raider showdown is part of the “Frosty Faceoff,” in which both the women’s and men’s teams will open their seasons back-to-back on Jordan Field.

Harvard heads into the matchup against the Raiders with confidence, leaning on the leadership of its seasoned coaching staff led by head coach Devon Wills, who returns for her sixth season with the Crimson. Alongside Wills are coaches, and lacrosse legends, associate head coach Becca Block, and assistant coaches Kiley Anderson and Kenzie Kent.

“They worked really hard over the break,” Wills said. “We have been putting in a lot of new things and throwing a lot out at them, and they have handled every challenge that we put towards them.”

Wills explained that the team is a bit older this season, and that the veteran players are leading by example, setting the tone for the team to work hard in practice.

“They've been training really hard, their energy has been great and the leadership has been great,” she added.

The team will welcome the Colgate Raiders to Jordan Field on Saturday.
The team will welcome the Colgate Raiders to Jordan Field on Saturday. By Brendan J. Chapuis

This season, the team hopes to improve its shooting percentage and finishing ability. Coach Wills highlighted the team’s speed in the midfield. She explained that Harvard hopes to use its speed and strong transition game to push the ball from the defensive end into the offensive zone in order to capitalize on the fast break opportunities generated by her defensive middies.

On attack, the unit will lean on returning contributors in senior midfielder Callie Hem – who led the team in points last year – and junior attacker Caroline Mullahy, who led the team in assists.

“Callie is going to reach a whole new level this year so we are really excited to watch her.” Wills said. “I think Caroline is just scratching the surface of what she is able to really do. And Maddie has been doing great working with the draws, making sure we get possessions and taking care of the ball.”

On the offensive midfield line, senior midfielder Maddie Barkate will look to continue her dominance at the draw, which will be a key aspect in implementing Wills’s fast-paced offensive program. Wills will also look to utilize the two-way prowess of Campbell and sophomore midfielder Charlotte Hodgson's dominance between the thirties.

“Riley is such a threat offensively and works well with everybody. Defensively she is an incredible presence so she is somebody who will have a lot of responsibility," Wills said. "Charlotte brings speed and athleticism. She is a fierce competitor. Defensively, she is always making big plays. Offensively she can snap right through the defense so we are really excited about her.”

Junior midfielder Annabel Child is expected to return from an ACL injury that kept her sidelined for the 2023 season. She will be a welcomed presence on the defensive end, and will look to lead both the low defenders and defensive middies. Junior midfielder Anna Andrews and sophomore defender Despina Giannakopoulos will also be key players to watch alongside Child.

Wills is confident that her team will perform at a high level this season, and is eager to prove that the Ivy League is a dominant presence in the lacrosse world.

"We are playing at a high level and with a high pace and we want people to come to games. We want everybody to know Harvard lacrosse is here and that we are out to prove something,” Wills said. “We have not felt like the Ivy League or even the team in general have gotten as much respect as some of the other leagues and teams. We are out to prove people wrong and we want the fans to be a part of that process, show up to games, and be a part of it with us.”

While Harvard anticipates a number of big games this season, the team is focused on its matchup against Colgate on Saturday. The Crimson is excited to kick off a strong season and put its training to the test during the first game of the year. The game is set to take place on Jordan Field at 12pm EST, and the contest will also be streamed live on ESPN+.

—Staff writer Hannah Bebar can be reached at hannah.bebar@thecrimson.com

—Staff writer Laura Connor can be reached at laura.connor@thecrimson.com

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