Harvard field hockey is ranked No. 15 in the NFHCA poll, its highest since 2004 (Mark Manela).
The Opening Faceoff
The 2016 Ivy League champion Harvard field hockey team is set to make its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament this Saturday, traveling to central New York to take on defending national champion No. 3 Syracuse in the first round. Game time at J.S. Coyne Stadium is slated for 11:30 a.m. with CUSE TV to broadcast it live.
The First Line
• Harvard captured its fourth Ivy League title in program history this year to garner the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 2016 championship was just the second outright title for the Crimson with the other coming in 1990. Harvard also shared Ivy titles in 1991 and 2004.
• The Crimson is playing its fifth NCAA Tournament game this Saturday. Harvard is 0-4 in its previous four appearances. Harvard played Boston University in 1991 (0-3), Wake Forest in 2000 (3-6), Michigan State in 2002 (3-4) and Wake Forest in 2004 (1-7).
• Freshman Bente van Vlijmen was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Tjerk van Herwaarden was voted the Ivy League Coach of the Year earlier this week. van Vlijmen is the fourth player in program history to earn Ivy League Rookie of the Year and first since Jen McDavitt '06 in 2002. van Herwaarden earns Harvard's first Coach of the Year honor in the awards' third year of existence. Both won their respective honor by unanimous vote of the Ivy League coaches.
• Harvard's 12 wins this season matches the program record. The Crimson won 12 games in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003 previously. The Crimson was also a perfect 7-0 against the Ancient Eight this season, marking the first time ever it was undefeated and untied against its conference foes.
Tickets and Parking
Tickets are available at the door at a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for youth. Due to Saturday's football game, parking for the general public will be limited in the Manley Field House lots and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Overflow parking will be directed to the Skytop Lots, with busses available to transport fans to and from J.S. Coyne Stadium. Due to this fact, fans are encouraged to arrive early, with gates opening at 10 a.m.
Last Time Out
Harvard put the finishing touches on a wildly successful regular season with a 5-1 victory over Columbia Nov. 5. Five different student-athletes scored for the Crimson, with senior Sophie van Weede adding three assists to go with her score for five points. Her strong performance earned her co-Player of the Week honors in the Ivy League.
The Orange enter the NCAA Tournament with a 14-3 overall record with that third loss coming in the ACC Championship game, a 4-3 decision for the Demon Deacons. Syracuse's only other losses on the year came to then-No. 5 North Carolina (3-2, Sep. 23) and then-No. 10 Virginia (1-0, Oct. 15).
The Orange is the defending national champion, defeating UNC in last year's title game, 4-2.
Four players have at least 21 points on this season's squad. Junior Lies Lagerwij sets the pace with 27 (13G, 1A), with sophomore Roos Weers, 26 (10G, 6A), graduate student Elaine Carey, 23 (7G, 9A) and senior Emma Lamison, 21 (7G, 7A) behind her. Senior Regan Spencer has started 16 games in goal and has a 1.27 GAA and a .753 save percentage.
Harvard was honored with seven All-Ivy League selections this week. Senior Marissa Balleza (F) and freshman Bente van Vlijmen (M) were unanimous first team selections. Senior Kyla Cordrey (M/B) and sophomores Libby Manela (G) and Kathleen Young (F) were tabbed second team. Junior Ellie Cookson (M) and sophomore Emily Duarte (M) received honorable mention recognition.
Senior Marissa Balleza etched her name in the Crimson record books this season as the most prolific scorer in program history. The Severna Park, Maryland native holds the career goals and points records with 47 and 109, respectively. Balleza passed Judy Collins '99 to obtain both records. Collins' previous marks were 43 goals and 102 points.
Harvard reeled off eight-straight victories from Sep. 23 (Yale) through Oct. 23 (Lafayette), a new program-record. The Crimson's best win streak prior to this season was six games in 1976 and 1990.
Last Line of Defense
Sophomore goaltender Libby Manela has been one of the nation's best since taking over the starting job Sep. 23 vs. Yale. The Houston, Texas native earned her first career win, a 2-0 shutout that night. That victory the previously mentioned eight-game win streak. She started every game the rest of the season, playing to a 10-1 record. Her .909 win percentage is second-best in the nation, trailing only Nina Klein of UConn (.950). Her goals-against mark of 1.12 is third best in the nation.
On The Right Track
Tjerk van Herwaarden has guided the Crimson back onto the national scene since taking over the helm of the program five years ago. In addition to leading Harvard to the Ivy title and NCAA Tournament this season, the 12 wins in 2016 matches 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.
Head coach Tjerk van Herwaarden welcomed a pair of new assistant coaches to his staff last spring, bringing on Marvin Bam and Katie O'Donnell Bam. The duo joins Harvard after both were members of the coaching staff at Millersville. Each brings a wealth of international experience, as Bam garnered 98 international caps and represented his home country of South Africa in the 2008 Olympics. O'Donnell Bam has been a member of USA Field Hockey for 11 years and played for Team USA at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio, scoring five goals. She played her collegiate career at Maryland where she was a four-time All-American.
38th Season of Ivy League Field Hockey
The 2016 campaign is officially the 38th season of Ivy League field hockey. Although the League's official founding was February 1954, the first year of athletic competition was the 1956-57 season.