Not only did Harvard cruise through this weekend’s matches as it faced two Massachusetts rivals, but sophomore forward Natalie Sicher’s breakout game on Sunday earned her the title of Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week.
Neither the Northeastern Huskies nor the Massachusetts Minutewomen were able to take down Harvard (4-1), as the home team’s stout defense smoothly shut out both squads. Sicher’s hat trick against UMass (3-5) rounded out the team’s weekend, handing Harvard the win in Sunday’s game. Two days prior, a pair of scores from two of the group’s key upperclassmen propelled the Crimson to victory.
Though Harvard has yet to play an opponent from the Ancient Eight, a Sept. 18 poll by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association ranked the Crimson 20th in Division-I field hockey, second in the Ivy League to only fifth-ranked Princeton.
HARVARD 4, MASSACHUSETTS 0
In the 63rd minute, sophomore Tessel Huibregsten weaved between multiple defending Minutewomen before firing a shot toward the cage. Sicher was there to put in the rebound and secure her hat trick.
Harvard’s offensive outburst against UMass was largely due to Sicher’s lethal performance. She logged the first goal trio of her career and just the second for the Crimson this season.
In its own half of the field, Harvard performed just as well as it did on the offensive. Freshman goalkeeper Ellie Shahbo earned her first career win and shutout, albeit with little action in the cage. The Crimson defense’s lockdown performance limited the Minutewomen to a single attempted shot.
The home squad tacked on another score in the contest’s dwindling minutes: freshman Kiley Allen’s shot from the top of the circle found twine for the first of her career. Allen finished the day with three points, as the late-game goal supplemented her first-half assist on a Sicher snipe.
Harvard faced another opponent during Sunday’s match at Berylson Field: the temperature, which climbed to levels above 80 degrees that afternoon.
A brief second-half hydration break for both teams allowed the Crimson to conquer the oppressive heat. As for the main foe on Sunday, the Harvard proved the danger in discounting both its offense and defense.
Sunday’s game snapped the Crimson’s seven-game losing streak to UMass-Amherst as Harvard registered its first win against the Minutewomen since 2005.
HARVARD 2, NORTHEASTERN 0
The Huskies (2-4) had history on their side as they made the trip across the Charles on Friday, not having fallen to the Crimson at Berylson since 2008. The past gave no indication, however, as to how this game would be played. Harvard outscored Northeastern by a pair to pocket its first shutout of the weekend.
The Crimson’s points were split between senior captain Kathleen Young and junior midfielder Bente van Vlijmen. The latter scored toward the middle of the first half, putting away her own rebound. Young added to the scoreboard with a second-half goal that she redirected off a shot by Allen.
Though the Huskies outnumbered Harvard in saves, registering nine to Harvard’s two, Northeastern remained scoreless throughout the match. Crimson goalkeeper Libby Manela registered her eighth career shutout, saving a deflected shot from up the field to hold Harvard’s lead.
After Friday’s game, the Crimson improved its home record to 14-4 since the start of 2016, with van Vlijmen leading the Ivy League in goals for the season. Harvard’s hot streak at home will be tested this weekend as the Yale Bulldogs come to Berylson to face the Crimson.