The scene in the Bulldog locker room Saturday was a gloomy one, as the field hockey team fell to nationally-ranked No. 17 Harvard 3-0 in a shutout in New Haven. Yale felt the pain of the loss to their longtime rival twice-over, as the defeat crushed any Eli hopes for an Ivy title this season.
After Saturday’s game, the Elis’ record dropped to 6-6, 2-2 Ivy while the Crimson improved to 9-3, 4-0. The Cantabs are No. 2 behind Princeton in the Ancient Eight. Yale is tied for fourth with Brown.
The fate of the game could be felt early on, as the Bulldog defense allowed two Harvard goals in the first three minutes of the first half. Crimson forward Mina Pell scored at 32:49 by redirecting a shot from midfielder Elizabeth Andrews on a penalty corner. Moments later, the Harvard offense struck again when midfielder Kate McDavitt scored off a pass from Pell at 32:02.
“We played the worst five minutes that I have seen us play this year,” captain Fran Gardner ’04 said. Gardner suffered an injury to her arm early in the game, when a ball struck her off a Harvard penalty corner. Gardner exited the field to seek medical attention and the condition of her injury is yet to be determined.
After some defensive substitutions, the Elis were able to stop the bleeding and start playing a more controlled game. They slowed the tempo and began taking solid shots on the goal, including a number of penalty corners. But the Harvard defense stymied the Yale rally.
“If we had scored the first goal, I think the rest of the game would have been different,” sweeper Meredith Hudson ’05 said. “But that didn’t happen, and we can’t play on our heels the whole game.”
Down 2-0, the Bulldogs were forced to play catch-up for the rest of the match. Yale found more of a rhythm on offense, orchestrating eight shots on goal in the second half compared to a dismal three shots in the first frame. But Harvard far outpaced Yale with 26 attempts on goal in the game.
Yale also lost the battle of the penalty corners. The Crimson, which recorded 13, nearly tripled Yale’s total of five.
On defense, the Bulldogs settled down in the second half and only allowed one Harvard goal. Harvard forward Beth Sakovich scored unassisted at 29:25 to extend the Cantab’s lead to 3-0. Goalkeeper Spike Nesburg ’04 had 12 saves in the match, and sweeper Meredith Hudson ’05 recorded a defensive save as well.
In the closing minutes of the game, Yale mounted a concerted rally, but was unsuccessful when the whistle sounded.
“We never let up and even managed to earn a corner against Harvard in the final seconds of the game,” Meredith Howell ’05 said. “That is a testament to the kind of drive and desire this team has.”
The Crimson, unbeaten in the Ivies, will face off on Wednesday against Princeton, which has been undefeated against Ivy opponent in 27 attempts.
“Harvard was a fast, athletic team — one of the best we’ve played all year,” Howell said. “I think they’ll give Princeton a run for their money.”
The loss to Harvard concluded the Elis’ seven-game home campaign. The Bulldogs will travel to Boston to face Holy Cross on Wednesday. With only five games remaining in the regular season, each match will be crucial in determining the fate of the Elis’ postseason play.
“I am confident in our abilities to bounce back from this hard loss and really play all-out in our last five regular season games,” Hudson said.
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