Coming off losses to Louisville and Sacred Heart, the women’s lacrosse team traveled to Cambridge this weekend for its fourth Ivy League matchup against Harvard. The Bears (4-7, 0-4 Ivy) hoped to secure their first conference win against the Crimson (7-3, 3-1) and snap a four-game losing streak, but they would have no such success.
Bruno outshot the Crimson and dominated in draw controls but fell short in an 8-2 loss. Despite keeping the pressure on and the score close throughout the first half, Brown was outscored by Harvard 6-2 in the second half.
“It was a tough league game to lose for sure,” said co-captain and attacker Lauren Toy ’16, the team’s leading scorer. “Our shots weren’t falling, and Harvard’s were.”
In the first half, Bruno was executing the game plan: staying aggressive on offense and playing a strong, focused set on defense, said Head Coach Keely McDonald ’00. During this period, Brown not only outshot Harvard 12-10 but also won every single draw control and held the Crimson to just two goals.
But Bruno let an aggressive and athletic Harvard team take control and assert itself offensively as the second half progressed. Despite goals by talented rookie Hafsa Moinuddin ’19 — her ninth of the season — and midfielder Jillian Lee ’17, Harvard went up 5-2 as the second half wound down. Adding insult to injury, Harvard scored three goals in the final five minutes.
“What we have been continuously working on these past couple of weeks is generating more shots,” said co-captain Dianne Vitkus ’16. “During the first half we succeeded in doing that, getting 12 shots off. Going forward we need to put those shots away and not let up on going hard to the cage during the second half.”
“Harvard is a top team in the country with some nice athletic players,” McDonald said. “I was really pleased with the effort but disappointed with the outcome.”
One of the team’s main goals this season has been for each athlete to grow individually and for the team as a whole to grow collectively, McDonald said. This year’s team has been “one of the most cohesive and improving teams” that she has ever worked with in her career at Brown.
Moving forward, the Bears will have a quick turnaround. The team plays UMass-Lowell Tuesday at 6 p.m. and hosts Columbia Saturday at 1 p.m. in their fifth of seven Ivy League matchups this year.
Brown will likely have to win out in its final conference games versus Columbia, Dartmouth and No. 11 Princeton — all teams that have “different strengths and weaknesses,” according to McDonald — in order to claim an Ivy League playoff berth, given to the top four teams in the Ivy League. The winner of the Ivy League playoff, crowned Ivy League Champion, will compete for the NCAA Championship to compete for a national title.
“This group is really hitting their groove right now, and they really want to finish out the rest of the season and Ivy League matchups with the same focus and composure that they approached Harvard,” McDonald said. UMass “will be a great test for us to respond aggressively to things that we need to work on, and so I am pretty excited that the players have this kind of opportunity. It’s really just about finishing out the season like we know we can and doing everything we can do to get those wins.”