No. 19 Field Hockey Hosts Penn, No. 13 Liberty This Weekend

Harvard will host Penn and No. 13 Liberty this weekend at Berylson Field.
Harvard will host Penn and No. 13 Liberty this weekend at Berylson Field.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – No. 19 Harvard field hockey (5-2, 1-0 Ivy League), winners of four straight contests, will look to keep rolling this weekend with home games against Penn (2-5, 1-0 Ivy League) on Saturday (12 p.m, ESPN+) and No. 13 Liberty (6-1) on Sunday (1 p.m., ESPN+) at Berylson Field.

Harvard is coming off a weekend sweep of games against Yale (W, 2-1) and Maine (W, 5-0), with sophomore goalkeeper Ellie Shahbo earning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors for her standout performance in both contests.

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What to Know 

  • Harvard and Penn will meet for the 42nd time, with the Crimson owning a 22-17-2 record overall, and a three-game winning streak in the series. Last year, Natalie Sicher's goal with 7:30 to play proved to be the difference in a 2-1 road win for Harvard.
  • Harvard and Liberty will meet for the first time in field hockey. Liberty, which began playing field hockey in 2011, has quickly become one of the nation's top programs. The Flames are No. 1 in the nation in goals-against (0.57), and No. 6 in the country in scoring (3.71 goals per game).
  • Dating back to 2017, Harvard is 10-0 in its last 10 Ivy League regular season contests, outscoring its Ancient Eight opponents by a combined score of 46-7 in that span.
  • Harvard leads the Ivy League with a 1.22 goals-against average, allowing two goals or less in six of its first seven contests. Ellie Shahbo leads the league with a 1.25 goals-against average, and is second with a .719 save percentage…Senior captain Bente van Vlijmen has four goals and an assist in her last three games, and leads the team with 10 points (four goals, two assists).
  • Harvard finished the 2018 season at 17-2 (7-0 Ivy League), as the team won its fifth Ivy League title, earned its sixth NCAA Tournament bid, and reached the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time ever. Harvard set school marks for wins (17) and wins in a row (14), and had the highest national ranking (No. 6) since the program's inception in 1974.  
  • The Crimson returns five of its top seven scorers from a season ago, including four-year standout and Longstreth/NFHCA All-American Bente van Vlijmen, the Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Harvard also returns the bulk of a strong defensive unit (No. 2 NCAA) - led by junior defender Hannah Pearce and sophomore goalkeeper Ellie Shahbo (both All-Ivy) - that allowed .74 goals per game, with 10 shutouts. Junior Mimi Tarrant and senior Bente van Vlijmen will captain the 2019 team.  

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At The Helm
Tjerk van Herwaarden, who won five national championships in seven seasons on the coaching staff at Maryland, took over as head coach at Harvard in 2012, and has quickly led the program to new heights. He enters his eighth season with the Crimson in 2019. In 2018, Harvard field hockey recorded its best season in program history, with van Herwaarden taking home Ivy League Coach of the Year honors, and his staff named the NFHCA Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year. The Crimson finished the year at 17-2 (7-0 Ivy League), recording its best season in program history as the Crimson won its fifth Ivy League title, and earned its sixth NCAA Tournament bid, reaching the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time ever with a 6-1 win over No. 9 Penn State in the first round. Nine individuals earned All-Ivy League honors with a conference-best five players on the All-Ivy First Team.