Junior Kaitlyn Boudah and the Crimson take on the Boston College Eagles on Wednesday night. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard field hockey team is set for the tail end of its recent three-game road trip on Wednesday, as the Crimson takes on No. 7 Boston College at 6 p.m. in Newton. Harvard (5-6, 1-3 Ivy), which is 4-3 on the road this season, will play its second ranked opponent of 2013.
The Crimson enters the crosstown showdown a winner of three of its last four contests, scoring an average of 3.75 goals per game over that stretch, compared to an average of just 1.29 over the seven games prior. The freshman class has been superb for Harvard, accumulating 11 goals and three assists for 25 points between the trio of Marissa Balleza, Sarah Finnemore and Sophie van Weede. Both Balleza and Finnemore have each raked in Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors this season.
Balleza leads the Crimson with 14 points on six goals and a pair of helpers. Noel Painter and Elizabeth Jacobson have also played important roles in the attack, as has Rachael Rosenfeld, who is coming off a two-score performance at Colgate on Sunday.
Last Time Out
Harvard split a pair of contests on the road last weekend, falling in a tough, 3-2 battle to Cornell before coming away with a dominating, 5-2 win at Colgate. It was a tale of two stories as the Crimson nearly completed a comeback against the Big Red, scoring a pair of goals in the second half only to have Cornell narrowly escape with the one score victory.
Balleza and Rosenfeld each tallied two goals on Sunday to help the Crimson to best the Raiders in style. The freshman sensation Balleza made it 2-0 early on in the first half to give Harvard a distinct advantage that paced the game in Hamilton, N.Y.
Defending the Cage
Senior Jenn Hatfield has enjoyed an impressive final season for Harvard, posting 58 saves in 11 games. The St. Louis native allows just 1.91 goals per game and saves over 73-percent of the shots headed her way.
A Look at Boston College
The Eagles are 11-4 this season and are ranked seventh in the nation after a hot start. After upsetting then No. 2 UConn on Oct. 6, 4-3 in overtime, BC has fallen in two of its last three games, including a double-overtime loss at No. 5 Virginia and a 5-2 contest at No. 3 North Carolina.
BC is led by its points machine, Emma Plasteras, who has notched 11 goals and 10 assists for 32 points in 15 games. Sisters Emily and Eryn McCoy each have eight goals this year, followed by Virginya Muma's seven tallies and AshLeigh Sebia's four to round out the top-five Eagle scorers.
Leah Settipane has started every game for the Eagles in 2013, recording 92 saves while allowing just 27 goals. The sophomore has already posted four shutouts this season, allowing an average of just 1.78 goals per game in the cage.
With the exception of 2011, Harvard and Boston College have played each other every season since 1985, including four times before that. The Eagles are 17-12-1 all-time against the Crimson, including wins in each of the last eight contests. Last season, BC downed Harvard, 3-0, at Jordan Field.