Marissa Balleza scored the game-winner for Harvard Saturday (Photo: Gil Talbot)
BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Harvard field hockey team improved to 3-0 on the year, as the Crimson knocked off Maine at the Catamount Classic Saturday afternoon, 2-1. Hannah Wellington and Marissa Balleza recorded the goals for Harvard, while Issy Davies made a career-high nine stops in goal.
Maine exerted a strong offensive effort, outshooting Harvard, 18-7, and registering nine penalty corners to the Crimson's three, but the Harvard defense stood tall, while the offense took advantage of its opportunities.
A back-and-forth first half saw the teams trade scoring opportunities, but it would not be until the waning minutes of the first half that Harvard would snap the scoreless drought. The Crimson used a number of decoys off a Noel Painter penalty corner before the ball found the stick of freshman Hannah Wellington who threaded a shot into the back of the cage. Ellie Cookson provided the feed to Wellington, earning the assist.
Maine responded after the intermission with their first goal, coming from Danielle Aviani, knotting the game at 1-1. Harvard quickly bounced back, capitalizing on a Black Bears' turnover. Strong pressure from Kaitlyn Boudah turned into a rush for the Crimson, as Cookson found a charging Marissa Balleza who one-timed a blast into the top left corner of the goal, putting Harvard back up, 2-1.
The Black Bears looked to tie the game up on a number of occasions through the second half, but Davies turned them away each time. With nine minutes remaining, Annabelle Hamilton fired a shot towards the net off a penalty corner that Davies swatted over the cage and then less than a minute later, Davies once again stopped a Hamilton attempt to ensure the Crimson's victory.
Harvard is back on the field tomorrow against the host Vermont Catamounts at 2:30 p.m. A live stream of the event can be viewed HERE.