No. 6 Field Hockey Opens 2019 Season With Road Tests at No. 22 UAlbany, No. 4 UConn

Harvard field hockey opens the 2019 season this weekend with games at UAlbany and UConn.
Harvard field hockey opens the 2019 season this weekend with games at UAlbany and UConn.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Coming off its most successful season in program history, No. 6 Harvard field hockey opens the 2019 campaign with two road contests at No. 22 Albany (1-1) on Friday (Sept. 6) and at No. 4 UConn (2-0) on Sunday (Sept. 8).

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.  

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Twitter: @HarvardFH

What to Know 

  • 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.
  • Senior forward Maddie Earle was the Ivy League scoring champion in 2018, finishing the year with 38 points (16 goals, six assists). A First Team All-Ivy selection, Earle had 14 goals in her last 12 games, including hat tricks against No. 18 Maine and Cornell, and was a big part of Harvard's fourth-ranked scoring offense (3.68 goals per game).
  • Shahbo was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a First Team All-Ivy selection as one of the nation's top goalkeepers. Shahbo finished the season with a 11-2-0 record, including three shutouts, a .70 goals against average (No. 2 NCAA) and a .804 save percentage (No. 2 NCAA).
  • For the second straight season, Harvard was picked to finish second in the Ivy League preseason media poll. Harvard received seven first place votes, finishing just three points behind Princeton for the top spot in the league poll.
  • Harvard and UAlbany will meet for the first time in field hockey. The Great Danes are the defending America East champions, falling to Maryland (L, 2-1) in a close contest in the NCAA Tournament.
  • UConn leads the all-time series against Harvard, 25-4-2, with the two teams last meeting two seasons ago (Sept. 10, 2017) at Berylson Field. The Huskies earned a 3-1 win, with Kathleen Young scoring the lone goal for the Crimson.

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.