Harvard overcame snow, wind, and freezing rain in Cambridge Saturday but could not deliver a victory through the hailstorm of Yale shots.
The Elis (6-2, 2-1 Ivy) defeated the Cantabs (1-7, 0-2) 16-5, ending a three-year streak in which Yale has beaten Harvard by just one goal in women’s lacrosse.
“The Harvard game has always been tough for us,” midfielder Miles Whitman ’04 said. “If you look at the last three years, we’ve always had the legacy of winning by one goal and just barely sneaking by. This year, we wanted to put that behind us and beat them soundly, and we were able to do that on Saturday.”
Weather conditions for Saturday’s game were less than ideal. The contest started an hour later than scheduled because snow had to be cleared from Harvard’s Jordan Field. After the game had begun, freezing rain poured on the field; along with a blistering cold winds and bone-chilling temperatures, it was a miserable outing.
“The weather conditions were awful,” attacker Sarah Queener ’03 said. “We just knew that we had to go and play our best no matter what the conditions are. We did a good job of staying warmed up in the locker room while we waited for them to make up their minds whether we were going to play. We tried to be positive and not let the weather affect the way we played.”
In the end, the high-powered Eli offense — and not the weather — downed the Cantabs. The Bulldogs had balanced output from nearly every member of the starting offensive unit; six Elis scored.
Midfielders Whitman and Katie Sargent ’05 had four goals each on the day. Whitman also had four assists. Attacker Caroline Petrovick ’03 got herself a hat trick and midfielder Sophie Melniker ’04 found the net twice. In addition, attacker Sarah Queener ’03, captain Clarissa Clarke ’03, and midfielder Aly Croffy ’05 each tagged one score.
“Every time we drove the ball in, they would automatically send a double [team],” Queener said. “Whoever was left open would then take a pass. It was kind of a draw-and-dump.”
The Elis dominated every statistical category. The Bulldogs more than doubled the Crimson’s shots 43-16 and collected 11 more ground balls than the Cantabs. The Elis were stingy on offense, giving up only five turnovers, and stifling on defense, forcing 14 turnovers.
Yale’s defensive effort started on the offensive side of the field.
“Every time their defense would get the ball, our offense and midfield would do a great job of trapping them,” Queener said. “We didn’t let them push the ball down the field in transition, and that may be because of hustle, or it may be because of the weather. I don’t know for sure.”
The Bulldogs improved significantly in two areas where they had struggled earlier in the season. On March 26, the Elis gave up five free-possession opportunities against Boston University. Saturday, Yale did not give up any free possession opportunities. Yale also righted the ship on draw controls, taking the edge against Harvard, 16-5.
“Our defenders did an excellent job of playing defense with their bodies and keeping [Harvard’s] offense in front of them,” Whitman said. “They used their checks wisely and challenged the attackers without fouling. The defensive effort really helped us push the ball in transition.”
Yale put itself on the scoreboard first with a Whitman goal two minutes into the game and did not trail the rest of the way. After a Harvard goal, Yale went on a five-goal scoring frenzy, taking a 5-1 lead with 7:48 left in the first half. Harvard broke Yale’s unanswered scoring streak on a goal from Katie Shaugnessy with 6:55 left in the first. But the Elis launched a second assault on the Crimson goal, finding the net three times consecutively. Harvard snuck in a goal 2:55 before halftime to make it 9-3 at intermission.
To open the second frame, Shaugnessy netted her second goal of the game, pulling the Crimson to 9-4. But Yale headed off Harvard’s comeback attempt in dramatic fashion, lining up seven points in a row to put the Elis well outside the Cantabs’ reach, 16-4.
“Every year we’ve been a better team than Harvard, and we’ve been letting them get within one point every time,” Queener said. “We were just sick of having it be so close. It was about a higher level of intensity and you saw it in the draw control yesterday.”
On Wednesday, Yale will pit its recent improved play level against a tough Rutgers team.
Under the radar because of a deceiving record (6-3, 0-2 Big East), the Scarlet Knights had many close games this season. Rutgers came within one point of an upset victory over No. 6 Georgetown and two points shy against No. 8 Syracuse. Five Scarlet Knights have 10 or more total points this season and four have 10 or more goals.
“Rutgers has the kind of team that has nothing to lose at this point,” Queener said. “They have some very athletic players and are a very physical, traditionally, team. It’s definitely going to be though to face that kind of team. We definitely can’t go into the game expecting to win. But I don’t think anyone is going to be scared to play.”