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Field Hockey Edges Fairfield, 4-3, in Overtime Thriller

Noel Painter and the Crimson took care of Fairfield for the first home win of 2013 (Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In what became a gripping contest at Jordan Field on Sunday afternoon, the Harvard field hockey team dug in against a proven Fairfield squad as the Crimson edged the Stags, 4-3, in overtime. Sophomore Elizabeth Jacobson's tally 13 minutes into the extra frame vaulted Harvard (4-5, 1-2 Ivy) to its second win in a row and first victory at home.

After more than 15 minutes of a stalemate to open the game, the Crimson began its attack. Catriona McDonald fired a shot towards the cage and Rachael Rosenfeld's stick was in the right place at the right time to deflect the buzzing ball right by Fairfield's Caitlin Bennett for the game's first score, putting Harvard up 1-0. Each side made a run to close out the first half, but the Crimson took a 1-0 advantage into the break.

After more back-and-forth along the midfield lines, Fairfield eventually evened the ledger with a deflection of its own as Christy Starsinic redirected a Shealyn Testa shot right around senior Crimson goaltender Jenn Hatfield. The Stags quickly made it 2-1 when, just four minutes later, Emily McCauley drove into the circle and squibbed one into the back of the cage to put Harvard in a shallow hole.

The Crimson, however, retaliated less than two minutes later, as Caitlin Rea and Noel Painter combined to even things up at 2-2. On a corner, Kyla Cordrey shifted the ball perfectly into Rea's line of vision, and Painter stuck her stick out to redirect the ball into the back of the cage. The Crimson quickly struck once again as Jacobson found herself in the thick of the attack for the second time Sunday afternoon. Painter inserted the Crimson corner and instead of taking the shot herself, Jacobson sent the ball all the way across the circle to a wide open Marissa Balleza, who tapped it in for the score to put Harvard up, 3-2, with just under five minutes remaining.

Fairfield made things quite interesting down the stretch, though, beginning with a goal at the 68:57 mark. Hillary Fitts took advantage of a Stag corner and knotted the game up at 3-3 with her tally. Both teams continued to press, but Fairfield earned another corner as time was expiring; the Stags appeared to have won the game with a score from Felicitas Heinin at the buzzer, but the shot was ruled too high and was discounted, forcing overtime.

In the extra seven-on-seven frame, neither side was able to strike in the early going, but Balleza nearly had her second multi-goal game in as many contests as her spinning shot ricocheted off the pipe, shooting just wide of the cage. Harvard pressed harder, and eventually the perseverance paid off. McDonald sent a rolling shot towards Bennett, who padded the ball away nicely, but Jacobson finished things off with an alert play in front of the cage to scoop the ball and send the golden goal home.

Harvard retained the shots advantage (13-8) and corner advantage (7-4) over Fairfield. The Stag's Caitlin Bennett recorded six saves on the afternoon, while senior Crimson goaltender Jenn Hatfield had three saves in her ninth start this season.

Harvard, looking to continue its current win streak, returns to the field next weekend with trips to Cornell (Oct. 19) and Colgate (Oct. 20) on the docket.