Season Recap: Women's Lacrosse Rides Offense to Best Conference Finish in Four Years

Season Recap: Women's Lacrosse Rides Offense to Best Conference Finish in Four Years

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot.

Sixteen members of the 20-woman roster for the Harvard women’s lacrosse team were freshmen or sophomores. With such a youthful squad in tow, little was known of what would become of the 2010 Crimson team. Despite having one of the toughest schedules in the Ivy League, Harvard finished its third season under head coach Lisa Miller with an 8-7 overall record and a 3-4 mark in conference games. It was the second winning season for Miller and first season for the Crimson with at least three conference wins since 2006.

Early in the season, the Crimson picked up another win over one of its top-20 opponents, edging No. 15 New Hampshire and marking the second year in a row Harvard has accomplished that feat. Midway through April, Harvard made history beating rival Princeton for the first time since 1992. The Crimson closed out the season with a dominating win over Boston College, who had been ranked much of the season, but fell out of the standings the previous week.

Harvard boasted three All-Ivy League recipients and the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Jennifer VanderMeulen led the Crimson attack all season long, scoring 56 goals en route to unanimous Ivy League Rookie of the Year and unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honors. VanderMeulen was among the nation’s leaders in hat tricks this season, scoring three or more goals 11 times. Only eight players in the nation accomplished that feat more times.

Sophomore Melanie Baskind, a dual sport athlete at Harvard who joined the team this spring, was a second-team All-Ivy League recipient after leading the Crimson in ground balls and caused turnovers. She was second in goals and points for the Crimson.

Newcomer Micaela Cyr was named honorable mention All-Ivy League for her efforts in the midfield. She led the Crimson in draw controls and was fourth in goals.

It was Harvard’s rookies that led the team in its season opening win against Massachusetts, scoring all 10 goals to propel the Crimson to a 10-8 victory over its in-state rival. After a close loss to John Hopkins, 15-10, Harvard knocked off No. 15 New Hampshire in double overtime with a Melanie Baskind tally.

Harvard opened up league play against Penn with its four-straight game on the road. VanderMeulen led the Crimson with three goals in a tough 16-6 loss. The Crimson held its first game of the season at home against Boston University just a few days later on St. Patrick’s Day. Despite a slow start from the Crimson, Harvard came back to within four goals late in the second half before falling 13-9 to the Terriers.  

In their first game of the season in Harvard Stadium, the women’s lacrosse team handed Cornell a 10-4 loss as seven different players found the back of the net. It was the first of three straight games in the Stadium. In the final weekend of March, Harvard’s second half comeback against Brown came up short as the Bears won 11-10. Brown held a 10-3 lead early in the second half, before six straight Crimson goals made it a one point game. The net day, Harvard’s offense was out in full force as eight players combined for 19 goals. VanderMeulen posted a career-high six tallies, while Cyr added five goals and one assist, also a career best.

The Crimson hit the road during Easter weekend for games at Yale and No. 4 Virginia. Harvard used a 11-goal second half to close the gap against the Bulldogs, but came up short in a 17-13 loss. Against the nationally ranked Cavaliers, the Crimson held their own, trailing 8-7 at the half. The more experienced ACC school was able to pull away in the second half to earn a 14-9 victory.

Harvard returned to Cambridge and put together back-to-back wins for the first time all season, while also holding its opponents to single digits. The first win was a 15-9 victory over Holy Cross, followed by an 11-9 win over Princeton on Alumni Day. The Crimson led by as many as five goals in the second half before the Tigers closed the gap. It was Harvard’s first win over Princeton in 18 tries.

The Crimson was unable to keep the win streak alive, falling to No. 7 Dartmouth, 11-9 four days later. Baskind pulled Harvard to within one with seven minutes to play, but the top-ranked Big Green defense wouldn’t let the Crimson any closer. In its final conference game of the season, Harvard beat Columbia 18-10, to keep its hopes of making the first-ever Ivy League Championships alive. The Crimson needed some help from other Ancient Eight games that weekend, and unfortunately didn’t get it. Harvard tied with Yale for fifth in the league standings, Harvard best finish since 2006.

After its longest break of the season, a 10-day layoff, the Crimson hosted Boston College on Senior Day. Eight players found the back of the net with Baskind and VanderMeulen recording five goals each. Harvard posted nine goals in the first half and led by six after 30 minutes of play. Senior Katherine Martino made 12 saves – a season-high – in the cage.

In 2010, Harvard scored more goals (176-159), scooped up more ground balls (214-183) and caused more turnovers (215-105) than its opponents.

Harvard will graduate three seniors this year and look to the current sophomores and juniors for leadership. The Crimson will return a great deal of offense next season (89 percents) as the two underclassmen classes combined for 155 of the 176 goals scored in 2010, with 112 coming from rookies alone. This does not include the 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and 2009 league leader scorer, Jess Halpern, who went down in the second game of the season with a knee injury.