No. 6 Field Hockey Ready For NCAA Opener Against No. 9 Penn State

No. 6 Field Hockey Ready For NCAA Opener Against No. 9 Penn State

No. 6 Harvard field hockey will open NCAA Tournament play on Friday against No. 9 Penn State (Gil Talbot)

PRINCETON, N.J. – A record-setting season for No. 6 Harvard field hockey (16-1, 7-0 Ivy League) will continue next weekend at the NCAA Tournament, as the Ivy League champions will take on Penn State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Nov. 9 at 2:30 p.m..

Harvard is making its sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament after winning its fifth Ivy League title (1990, 1991, 2004, 2016, 2018) with a perfect season in conference play. Harvard has previously played for a national championship in 1991, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2016.

This will be the first ever meeting in field hockey between Harvard and Penn State.

How to Follow
Broadcast: vs. Penn State - ESPN+ 
Live Stats: vs. Penn State
Twitter: @HarvardFH
Notes: Harvard

What to Know
· A dream regular season for No. 6 Harvard field hockey has seen several team records fall:

Most wins in a season (16)
Longest winning streak (13)
Highest national ranking (No. 6)
Most hat tricks (4)

Harvard broke the previous program record for wins (13), set in 2017. The Crimson has won 13 games in a row heading into the NCAA Tournament, breaking the previous mark (8), set in 2016. Harvard cracked the top 10 for the first time ever and brings its highest national ranking into the NCAA Tournament. Harvard has four hat tricks this season (Maddie Earle - vs. Maine, vs. Cornell; Natalie Sicher vs. UMass; Bente van Vlijmen vs. Holy Cross), 

· Harvard has the top defensive unit in the nation, allowing just .65 goals per game, and also has the most shutouts of any team in the country (10). Leading the Crimson has been first-year goalkeeper Ellie Shahbo (10-1-0), who leads the nation with a .56 goals-against average, and is No. 2 in the country with a .813 save percentage. Shahbo has won 10 straight starts (UMass, Yale, Maine, Penn, BU, Cornell, Princeton, Boston College, Dartmouth, Columbia), allowing just three goals in that span. In her first career start, Shahbo made 10 saves against the No. 3 Maryland, the most by a Harvard goalie since 2015 (Issy Davies, 11 saves vs. Maine, 9/13/15).

· Harvard is fourth in the nation in scoring offense (3.71 goals per game), led by juniors Maddie Earle (15 goals, five assists) and Bente van Vlijmen (12 goals, six assists). Earle leads the Ivy League in scoring (35 points) and is on pace to near the single season program scoring record (42 points) held by Judy Collins '99 and Shelley Maasdorp '05. Earle has been fantastic for the Crimson of late, with 13 goals in her last 11 contests. A two-time NFHCA/Longstreth All-American, van Vlijmen is in the midst of her best season with the Crimson, recording points in all but five games as a pivotal piece of Harvard's offense.

Additionally, five other players have recorded five goals or more for Harvard, including Tessel Huibregtsen (6), Kathleen Young (6), Natalie Sicher (6), Casey Allen (5), and Olivia Allin (5).

· For the second time in the last three seasons (and second time in program history), Harvard finished the regular season with a perfect 7-0 record in Ivy League play. Harvard has won 22 of its last 23 Ivy League contests overall. The Crimson, amazingly, did not allow a goal at Berylson Field all season, outscoring opponents 33-0 in home games with a perfect 8-0 record at home.

At The Helm
Tjerk van Herwaarden has led the program to heights never reached before in the history of Harvard field hockey. In his seventh season has head coach of the program, he has a 71-48 overall mark with a 31-18 record in Ivy League play. Harvard set several program records with a dominant run through the regular season. Harvard has won the most games (16) and currently has the longest winning streak (13) in program history. Harvard carries the second best winning percentage (.941) and second longest winning streak in the nation into the NCAA Tournament. 

The Crimson did not allow a goal at Berylson Field all season, outscoring opponents 33-0 with an 8-0 record on its home field. Over the past three seasons, Harvard is 41-11 with a 20-1 mark in Ivy League play.

Next Up
Harvard would advance to play the winner of Princeton/Virginia on Sunday (Nov. 11), with a 1 p.m. start time. The game will air on ESPN+.