The River Hawks’ early lead was not enough to beat Harvard. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics).
Despite a strong start for UMass Lowell, the River Hawks fell to the Harvard Crimson 14-10 on Wednesday night at Cushing Field. Three early goals from senior attack Taylor Sokol put UMass Lowell on the board early on, but it was not enough to sustain Harvard’s pressure. With the loss, the River Hawks fall to a 4-9 overall record.
“Overall, I thought our first half was a great one, a full 30 minutes of playing against a really seasoned team in Harvard,” said head coach Carissa Medeiros. “We executed our game plan pretty well, [and] our defense was making some great stops and we were able to handle, for the most part, their best two players.”
UMass Lowell was off to an early start, scoring their first goal just a minute and a half into the match. Sokol scored her 26th goal of the season to become the player with the most goals in a single season in program history.
Harvard’s senior defender Robyn White tied the game two minutes later after regaining possession off a rebound. The River Hawks remained steadfast and their tight defense forced some quick passes from the Crimson, which resulted in a few turnovers that UMass Lowell was able to capitalize on.
The River Hawks went on a 3-0 run in a span of eight minutes. Senior midfielder Kaylan DiModugno was fouled driving to the net and scored off the free position shot to regain the lead. A Harvard turnover on their offensive end gave the River Hawks possession and quick, successive passes pushed the ball efficiently down the field. With only a few defenders surrounding her, Sokol scored her second goal of the night.
A little over a minute later, another free position shot led to Sokol scoring again which put the River Hawks up 4-1. UMass Lowell’s lead was short lived, however, as Harvard scored four goals in a row. Two of the four goals came from free position shots due to River Hawk fouls. Three separate players scored for the Crimson, including two goals by Harvard’s leading scorer, senior midfielder Julia Glynn. Glynn scored the goals within a minute of each other to give Harvard a 5-4 lead.
The remainder of the first half was very much a back-and-forth game. UMass Lowell senior attack Austin Trasatti tied the game again with 10:44 left in the half. Junior attack Paige MacEachern followed three minutes later to regain the lead for the River Hawks.
The Crimson dug in deep for the final four minutes. Glynn and junior midfielder Keeley MacAfee each scored to give Harvard a 7-6 lead going into halftime.
MacAfee opened the scoring in the second half, extending Harvard’s lead just a minute into the remaining half. Following a pass from White from behind the net, MacAfee gathered the ball directly in front of UMass Lowell’s senior goalkeeper Courtney Barrett to score.
“The poor decisions we made with the ball happened in the beginning of the second half and kind of forced us to dig ourselves out of a hole, and I think, honestly, we just ran out of time at the end there,” said Medeiros.
Plagued by caused fouls, the River Hawks struggled to regain their pace. UMass Lowell did not have their first shot attempt until seven minutes into the half. Harvard, on the other hand, maintained possession for most of the half, going on a 3-0 run that maintained their lead for the first 15 minutes of the half. Two of these shots were the result of UMass Lowell fouls, which allowed free position shots to be taken directly in front of the goal.
The River Hawks’ scoring drought finally ceased in the 46th minute of the match with a goal from sophomore midfielder Hana Caster. Sokol added another goal to her total just over a minute later as Harvard’s lead was cut with a score of 11-8. Sokol ended the match with four goals.
“Taylor is one of my favorite coaching stories of all-time,” said Medeiros. “Where she started, the journey in the middle and where she’s ending is just absolutely picture-perfect. Taylor wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s physically just a great presence out there. Her role is going to be very, very tough to fill next year.”
Harvard maintained possession for an entire four-minute stretch due to purposeful passes and the team’s patience, which ultimately resulted in a goal from Glynn. She led the Crimson in goals with five.
The River Hawks were not finished yet, however. With two minutes left to play, junior attack Jane Dudley scored her first goal of the night. This was the final goal of the night, giving Harvard the 14-10 victory as they improve to a 4-8 record.
“We were able to close the gap and sometimes it’s not good enough, but for me, it just gives me another reassurance that we’re closing the gap on these wonderfully strong, talented, bona fide Division I teams, and we’re getting awfully close,” said Medeiros.
UMass Lowell will travel to New York on Saturday, April 14 as they take on the University at Albany in an America East matchup.