Balleza’s Hat Trick Powers Field Hockey Past Bryant, 5-2

Marissa Balleza recorded a hat trick Monday in Harvard's 5-2 win over Bryant (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Junior Marissa Balleza scored the game's first three goals Monday for her second career hat trick, propelling the Harvard field hockey team (1-1) to a 5-2 win over Bryant (1-4) in the Crimson's home opener. Elizabeth Jacobson assisted on all three of those goals, with Sarah Finnemore picking up an assist on the third goal.

Also finding the score sheet for the Crimson were Ellie Cookson and Kathleen Young. Cookson scored her first of the season in the 58th minute and then assisted on Young's first collegiate goal in the 64th minute.

"I'm very happy with our first win of the season, especially in our home opener," commented Harvard head coach Tjerk van Herwaarden. "Bryant put up a good fight and thankfully we were able to hold our defense and create a lot of opportunities that led to five goals. Also, being able to play every player in the first home game of the season is always special so I'm happy with that."

The Jacobson to Balleza connection became commonplace for Harvard, with the first strike coming a little over five minutes into the game. Balleza fielded a pass from Jacobson directly in front of the Bryant keeper and was able to beat her to the left.

Harvard sported a 1-0 lead at the half, but quickly tacked on two more from Balleza in the first 5:13 of the second stanza. Jacobson showed great ball control on the Crimson's second goal, carrying it up the right side before feeding a pass to Balleza in the center of the arc where she beat the Bulldogs' goalie once again. Balleza completed the hat trick moments later off a penalty corner which started with Sarah Finnemore entering a pass near side to Jacobson, who hit Balleza on the stick across the arc creating the shooting lane to put Harvard ahead, 3-0.

The hat trick is the second of Balleza's career after she also posted three tallies in Harvard's 4-1 over Columbia in the 2014 season finale.

Bryant's leading scorer, Victoria Danby, got the Bulldog's on the board at 49:55 when she tipped in a shot from Emily Perryman. Eight minutes later, Cookson extended the Harvard lead back to three goals with an unassisted score.

Despite the deficit, the Bulldogs continued to challenge the Crimson as Brownyn Walton scored her second of the season at 63:04, but Harvard answered back 51 seconds later when Cookson's pass from the end line set up Young for Harvard's fifth goal of the contest.

In total, Harvard outshot Bryant 18-13, including an 11-6 advantage in shots on goal. Issy Davies made four stops in net for the Crimson.

Back-to-back road games await Harvard, beginning with a trip to Maine on Sunday, Sept. 18 and then a visit to Northeastern Friday, Sept. 18.