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Balleza Vaults Field Hockey to 4-0 Victory at UMass Lowell

Harvard moves to 3-5 on the season after the victory over UMass Lowell (Photo courtesey of Gil Talbot)

LOWELL, Mass. Freshman Marissa Balleza tallied two goals and an assist for the Crimson field hockey team on Wednesday evening, sparking a 4-0 Harvard win over intrastate foe UMass Lowell in nonconference play.

It was junior Caitlin Rea who got the Crimson on the board first, however, after converting a well-executed penalty corner. Following a stalemate for the first 10 minutes of the contest, Balleza inserted the Crimson’s first corner to junior Noel Painter, who set up Rea’s shot into the cage to put Harvard up, 1-0, midway through the first stanza. The River Hawks nearly countered with a score of their own six minutes later, but the quick pads of Jen Hatfield stunted a UML corner opportunity to preserve the Crimson lead.

 With just under five minutes left in the first period, Balleza added to Harvard’s advantage with her 15-foot shot into the right side of the cage. The freshman tallied her second score of the season in style, sneaking one past the entire River Hawk defense to give the Crimson a comfortable 2-0 lead into halftime.

Out of the break, UML came out firing and looking for its first goal, but the Harvard defense stood firm, especially sophomore Dina Sinno, who broke up a corner play and inhibited another shot heading for Hatfield’s cage not long a mere two minutes into the second frame. Minutes later, Balleza notched second goal of the game with another shot, this time with a flip shot over Hopkins’ shoulder to make it 3-0 in Harvard’s favor.

As has been the case time and again for the Crimson on the attack, another freshman, this time Sophie van Weede recorded her first goal of the season to give Harvard a commanding 4-0 lead over Lowell with nearly 20 minutes remaining. Kaitlyn Boudah grabbed her first assist on the year, flipping it to van Weede, who dribbled it in the circle, sweeping it into the cage. UML wasn’t without its chances down the stretch, but the Crimson stifled any chance the home team had of scoring anything.

For its part on defense, Harvard allowed just three shots on goal to Lowell. The Crimson tallied seven shots on goal, connecting on four of them for the 4-0 victory, while totaling six corners on the evening.

Harvard continues the season on Sunday with another nonconference bout, this time with visiting Fairfield at Jordan Field. The game between the Crimson and Stags is set for 1 p.m. and will be streamed live on the Ivy League Digital Network.