Harvard field hockey takes on No. 2 Connecticut in a matchup of ranked teams at Berylson Field. (Mark Manela)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – No. 18 Harvard field hockey (2-1) is set for its home opener on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 10, 1 p.m.) against No. 2 Connecticut (4-0) at Berylson Field. The Crimson won two of three games last weekend in the team's first trip to California since 2010, defeating UC-Davis (W, 3-0) and No. 25 Pacific (W, 5-3) before falling in a shootout at No. 13 Stanford (L, 2-1) on Monday.
The First Line
- Harvard freshmen Hannah Pearce and Mimi Tarrant are off to quick starts for the Crimson. Pearce had a standout game against Pacific, recording two goals and an assist and adding a defensive save against the Tigers. Tarrant had a goal in Harvard's win at UC Davis and added a goal and an assist against Pacific.
- Reigning Longstreth/NFHCA Division I Second Team All-America selection Bente van Vlijmen had points in each of Harvard's first three games, notching goals against UC-Davis and Pacific, and recording an assist on Harvard's game-tying goal at Stanford.
- Senior goalkeeper Olivia Startup (UC Davis, Pacific) and junior goalkeeper Libby Manela (Stanford) both started in net for the Crimson, with Startup earning two wins, and Manela allowing just one goal with three saves in 96:06 of regulation and overtime at Stanford.
- The Crimson will play eight home games in 2017, with Connecticut, New Hampshire, Lafayette and BU joining four Ivy schools in visiting Cambridge.
One of the top defensive teams in the nation last season, Harvard returns seven starters from its 2016 NCAA squad (12-6, 7-0 Ivy League), including junior goalkeeper Libby Manela, who finished the year 10-2 with a 1.42 GAA (14th NCAA). Senior Ellie Cookson returns as one of Harvard's top playmakers - she led the team and the Ivy League with 10 assists. Sophomore Bente van Vlijmen, the only freshman in the nation named a first or second team All-American, is Harvard's top returning goal-scorer.
No. 2 UConn has strung together five consecutive BIG EAST Tournament Championships dating back to 2012 and was picked to finish first in the conference preseason poll after a 22-2 record and a berth to the NCAA semifinals a year ago. The Huskies return two of their leading scorers in Charlotte Veitner and Casey Umstead, who were selected as the BIG EAST Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. The Huskies have three wins against top-15 opponents this season – No. 13 Stanford, No. 14 Northwestern, and No. 11 Michigan.
The Last Time Out
On Monday, in a thrilling game between two nationally-ranked teams, Harvard forced overtime with under a minute left in regulation at No. 13 Stanford before falling 2-1 by way of a 3-2 shootout win for the Cardinal at Varsity Senior Hannah Wellington tipped a Bente van Vlijmen shot just inside the net on the near side with :34 to play, tying the game at 1-1. For Harvard, van Vlijmen narrowly missed winning the game in OT, as Kelsey Bing made a sprawling stick save minutes into the first extra frame.
On The Right Track
Tjerk van Herwaarden has guided the Crimson back onto the national scene since taking over the helm of the program six years ago. In addition to leading Harvard to the Ivy title and NCAA Tournament, the 12 wins in 2016 matched a program record. His 42 wins in the first five years of his career at Harvard is just one shy of the most ever by a Crimson field hockey coach.
Ivy League Network
The Ivy League Network returns for a fifth season as the home for all live streaming and on-demand video content for each of the conference's eight institutions. Broadcast in full HD and featuring a live score bug and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight.
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Harvard heads to Northeastern on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. before returning to Berylson Field to take on New Hampshire on Nov. 17 at 1 p.m..