The Crimson will close out the regular season with a road trip to New York City to face Columbia. (Zack Williamson)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard field hockey team is ready to wrap up the 2013 regular season on Sunday as the Crimson (7-9, 1-5 Ivy League) takes to the road to square off with Columbia (6-9, 2-3 Ivy League) at noon on Sunday.
The Crimson is coming off a 1-1 weekend, capped off by a stellar win against Vermont on Sunday. Harvard celebrated its six seniors in style, knocking off the Catamounts, 4-0, thanks to two goals from Marissa Balleza. The performance, meshed with the four total points over the three-game week, earned Balleza Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this season.
As a freshman, Balleza heads the charge for the Crimson attack, leading Harvard with 27 points, thanks to a team-best 12 goals in her debut season. This season, Balleza has two game winners, and the only two penalty strokes the Crimson has attempted. Classmate Sarah Finnemore and sophomore Elizabeth Jacobson have helped to anchor a young Harvard team this season. Junior Noel Painter has remained a veteran leader on the field, racking up 15 points on six goals and three assists.
In the cage, senior Jenn Hatfield has been a rock for the Crimson, denying 85 shots (.733 save percentage), while allowing just 31 goals (2.02 per game). Her two shutouts are good enough for second in the Ivy League and have helped Harvard to its best season in two years.
The Lions are entering the final weekend of the season on a two-game slide, suffering losses to Delaware, 3-2, and Yale, 6-2. Columbia's last two victories both were 4-3 overtime decisions as the Lions downed both Colgate and Penn by the same margin.
Columbia, which has scored 35 goals this season, is led on the attack by Katie Ruesterholz with her 10 goals and two assists for 22 points. Christina Freibott and Zoe Blake round out the top-three Lions, earning 16 and 10 points, respectively.
A platoon of netminders have helped the Lions this season, but Kimberly Pianucci has started all but four games, earning a 5-8 record with her 80 saves and 38 goals allowed.
Harvard and Columbia are meeting for the 17th time this season, with the Crimson holding a 10-6 advantage. The Lions, however, have won six in a row since 2007, including a tightly contested, 3-2, battle last season at Jordan Field to end the Crimson's year.