Archive for the ‘1’ Category

Defense Provides Offense for Crimson

March 5, 2010

Wednesday afternoon the Harvard men’s lacrosse team faced a non-conference opponent, the Georgetown Hoyas, in a televised contest played at Georgetown. The Crimson is poised to be a top team this year, returning its leading scorers from last season and welcoming one of the most talented freshmen classes of any team in the nation. Harvard fell to the Hoyas on Wednesday, but the Crimson’s offense was relentless, especially in the closing minutes when it tallied four goals in two minutes en route to falling by one, 13-12.

That Harvard will have a strong offense again this year is certainly expected, but I, for one, have been wondering what the condition of their defensive line will be after graduating several starters including goalie, Joe Pike ’08. If senior Ben Smith’s early season contributions are any indication of how the defense will play, then I’d say the defensive line is going to be very solid this year .

In the first two games of the season, Smith has already tallied two goals for the Crimson. Smith scored against Canisius in the season opener at Harvard last Saturday. His score came after the defense pushed the ball up field and carried the action into the offensive zone, creating an opportunity for Smith to have a shot on net. After three years on the roster and plenty of game action in the past few seasons, this was Smith’s first collegiate goal. The goal was not a fluke or a stroke of luck by any means though. On Wednesday, in the tough battle with the Hoyas, Smith again netted a goal.

Smith’s versatility on the field perhaps indicates some untapped potential to his game. Whatever the cause of his newfound ability to drive to the goal, it is certainly a harbinger of great things to come for both Smith and the rest of Coach Tillman’s defense.

Advertisements

Hockey Players Earn Season Honors

March 5, 2010

It’s tourney time for women’s hockey, and with the end of the regular season also comes a slew of regular-season prizes.

Junior Kate Buesser and freshman Jillian Dempsey are both up for two of ECAC Hockey’s biggest individual accolades.

Buesser, a forward, is a top-three finalist for ECAC Player of the Year after earning a spot on the conference first team last week. The junior has stepped into the void left by the graduation of Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-’09, Jenny Brine ’09, and Sarah Wilson ’09 to lead the team with 38 points on 15 goals and 23 assists.

Buesser is tops in the ECAC with a +26 ranking, and was the conference’s second-leading scorer in league games. She is competing with Dartmouth senior Sarah Parsons and Cornell sophomore Catherine White, both forwards, for the prize.

Dempsey, a center, is one of three candidates for the conference Rookie of the Year prize. She is second on the Crimson with 26 points and is 10th among rookies nationally with 0.86 points per game. Big Red defenseman Laura Fortino and Quinnipiac goaltender Victoria Vigilanti are the other two finalists.

Buesser, Dempsey, and No. 4 Harvard take on No. 6 Clarkson in the ECAC semifinals tomorrow night in Potsdam, N.Y.

Harvard Athletes Do Good, Well

March 4, 2010

While sporting events may not the biggest source of revenue at Harvard, several recent rivalry matchups allowed for serious fundraising for a very worthy cause.

During last month’s high-profile men’s basketball and ice hockey games against Ivy League foe Cornell, Crimson athletes dressed in old school Harvard gear made their way throughout packed crowds collecting donations for Partners in Health – Harvard for Haiti. The event, organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, raised over $5,000 for the cause.

The SAAC, led by senior softball player Melissa Schellberg, is comprised of representatives from most of the school’s varsity squads, including several head coaches. The group organizes community events and serves as a connection between athletes and Athletic Department administrators.

The fundraising at the February matchups was just one example of Crimson student-athletes’ more philanthropic activities. Over the last few years, several teams, players, and other SAAC members have been involved in everything from producing an educational math video for elementary students, to a bench press challenge benefitting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, to this fall’s “Miles for Myles” event in honor of the late NCAA President Myles Brand.

Check out athletes’ latest charity efforts at Harvard football’s Blood Drive, held 1-6 p.m. Friday on the second floor of the Dillon Field House.

Five-OT Thriller Decides ECAC Playoff Series

March 1, 2010

The No. 4 Harvard women’s hockey team’s road to the ECAC tournament semifinals was smooth. 5-1 and 4-1 trouncings of Princeton gave the third-seeded Crimson a spot in the conference final four.

Rensselaer, on the other hand, did not have such an easy time of it.

The best-of-three series between fourth-seeded Quinnipiac and the fifth-seeded Engineers will go down as one of the most dramatic in ECAC history.

Friday night’s Game 1 got interesting when Bobcat Kallie Flor scored with just over five minutes to play in the game to tie the score at one. 8:46 into double overtime, her teammate Chelsea Illchuk lit the lamp to give Quinnipiac a 2-1 victory.

Though Saturday’s Game 2 was decided in regulation, it was just as tight a contest—Rensselaer came away with a 1-0 win on the strength of an Alisa Harrison power-play tally.

But none of that compared to the drama of Game 3.

With their seasons on the line—the winner promised a place in the conference semis, and the loser sent home—each squad left everything on the ice.

Regulation ended, again, with the score knotted at one after a late-game Quinnipiac tally. Overtime after overtime passed with nothing to add to the score sheet except more saves for the Engineers’ Sonja van der Bliek and the Bobcats’ Victoria Vigilanti.

And finally, in the fifth overtime, Rensselaer captain Laura Gersten put an end to things.

The senior took a pass from Whitney Naslund and put the puck just over Vigilanti’s glove—a shot that hit the crossbar and dropped straight down, causing a deliberation amongst the officials, who eventually ruled it a goal.

Van der Bliek finished with 49 saves while Vigilanti recorded 57. It was the longest NCAA-sponsored women’s hockey game in history at 145 minutes, just 1:03 shy of breaking the record set by the 1996 ECAC Championship game between New Hampshire and Providence.

Now the Engineers—led by Gersten, who also scored the overtime game-winner in last year’s ECAC semifinal, when Rensselaer upset top-seeded Harvard, 3-2—advance to play No. 1 seed Cornell in Friday’s semifinal matchup, while Quinnipiac heads home heartbroken.

The Crimson will travel to Potsdam, N.Y. on Friday to take on second-seeded Clarkson. The semifinal winners will advance to Sunday’s championship game, which will be hosted by the highest-remaining seed.

Stats Shed Light on Ivy Hoops

March 1, 2010

Harvard men’s basketball closes out its regular season on the road against the Killer P’s this weekend. The Crimson will look to secure a second place Ivy finish with a pair of victories.

So how do the teams match up? Penn sits at 4-7 in conference, Princeton at 8-3, and Harvard at 9-3.

But maybe more telling of how good the teams are is a statistic calculated by Harvard freshman John Ezekowitz (http://harvardsportsanalysis.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/ivy-league-efficiency-margins-week-2/).

Looking at team tempo and points scored and allowed per possession, Ezekowitz has developed a ranking system for Ivy League basketball teams. The statistic he uses is called a team’s Efficiency Margin.

The system for the most part validates the Ivy League standings, but it offers a little more detail into how strong the teams are.

In line with common knowledge, Cornell is by far the leader in the Ivies in efficiency margin at .28. Princeton’s efficiency margin is .15, barely above Harvard’s .13. After the top three teams, there is a major drop off. Brown, Yale, and Penn come in at -.04, -.05, and -.06, respectively. Columbia sits at -.14 and Dartmouth occupies the cellar at -.22.

Cornell boasts the leagues best offense at 1.16 points per possession and Princeton claims the league’s best defense with a league-low .87 points per possession. Harvard is the fastest playing team in the Ivies with adjusted tempo of 68.7 possessions per game.

Olympic Mishaps Don’t Bode Well

February 15, 2010

Even with planning that began a decade ago, the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada have already had their fair share of mishaps before competition even began.

The first came early Friday, when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili suffered a horrific crash during a training run at the Whistler Sliding Center. Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled and flew over the outer barrier, slamming into an unpadded metal pole. Attempts to revive the unconscious 21-year-old failed, and he was pronounced dead after being airlifted to a local hospital.

Kumaritashvili’s crash was one of the most horrible accidents in recent Olympic history, but it was not entirely unforeseen. Not only was a luger killed in the sport’s first introduction to the Olympic games in 1964, but concerns were also raised about the Whistler track in particular. In just two days, there were three separate crashes, including another where the athlete was airlifted from the track that many are calling too fast and too dangerous for competition.

Worries of another kind have arisen at more of Vancouver’s Olympic venues as well, especially the ski hills. Last week’s rain and relatively warm temperatures turned the Whistler runs into a collection of soggy slopes and have delayed women and men’s downhill races until no earlier than Monday.

Olympic officials have been working frantically to improve conditions to racing standards, even carting in snow to the site for freestyle skiing and snowboarding at Cypress Mountain.

Finally, as if Kumaritashvili’s tragedy and the dismal weather weren’t enough, the week was capped off by a noticeable blunder in Friday’s elaborate opening ceremony. Due to a mechanical failure, one of the four colossal architectural pillars failed to rise during the climactic lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

All that the Olympians and officials can hope for now is that the opening ceremony marked the closing of Vancouver’s streak of misfortune.

Harvard Faces BC in Beanpot

February 1, 2010

With the end of the season looming, the Harvard men’s hockey team has a shot at redemption against local rival Boston College, who defeated the Crimson in a close 3-2 match in early December. The Beanpot game, scheduled today at TD Garden Arena, will measure how far the Harvard team has come from the 10-game losing streak it was on when it last faced the Eagles. Since playing Boston College, the Crimson has improved its record from 1-8-2 to 5-11-3.

Although Harvard had a 27-26 shot advantage over the Eagles, Boston College scored two goals in less than three minutes in the first period, building a lead the Crimson could not overcome. After a netminder change in the second period, the Eagles were unable to score again, but with three goals already on the board, the damage had been done.

For Harvard to win in the rematch, it will need to generate the momentum it had in the waning minutes of the first game, and carry it through all three periods. Coming off a loss to conference rival Princeton, the setting is familiar. Boston College will have the chance to continue a Crimson losing streak once again.