Michigan field hockey falls on penalties against Harvard
ANN ARBOR – Michigan put the ball in the back of the goal once in their second round NCAA tournament game on Sunday at Ocher Field. It didn’t matter.
Harvard found the goal when it succeeded, although it took a while, and won with a shootout win over the Wolverines to advance to the Final Four.
After a goalless settlement and goalless overtime, the game turned to a penalty shootout, with three Harvard players pushing the ball past Michigan’s Anna Spieker and Harvard goalkeeper Ellie Shahbo playing three Wolverines.
The defeat denies the Wolverines what would have been a third semifinal trip in the last five seasons. The Wolverines also lost in overtime in their national championship game last year.
“I hope everyone remembers how it feels and ends with some vengeance next year,” said Halle O’Neill, senior fifth grade, at her last game at Ocher Field. “Leave it all out there and hopefully come back with a national championship.”
Rachel Greenwood, Mimi Tarrant and Isa Gooijer all scored on penalties for Harvard, all moving left before turning.
Shahbo watched Katie Anderson of Michigan shoot out, then used her stick to push the ball away from Lora Clarke. O’Neill was then turned down by Shahbo and Harvard moved on.
This included Shahbo dropping her stick, which prompted Michigan to protest at the NCAA.
“The goalkeeper shouldn’t lose his stick like that, and that’s just a hard and fast rule, not a subjective thing,” said Michigan’s coach Marcia Pankratz. “So we just thought they should have brought this up, and they didn’t even bring it up, they just walked away. I just wanted to know the answer to that. “
In the first overtime, Michigan appeared to have scored a game-winning goal, but it was not recognized. Nina Apoola fired a shot on goal from a penalty corner, 6:54 minutes behind, but it was deflected but it was decided that Apoola’s opening shot was too high.
Not long after the unrecognized goal, Anderson received a yellow card and less than a minute later Alana Richardson followed, giving Harvard a two-player lead for more than four minutes.
Michigan also had two green cards in quick succession in the middle of the second quarter, giving Harvard a brief two-player advantage and giving the Crimson a nearly four-minute lead.
But Michigan’s defense kept Harvard in check in both situations.
“Great resilience, amazing,” said Pankratz. “It’s almost impossible to fend off a six-on-four and it’s really very unfair and difficult for our team and I thought we got through it wonderfully.”
During regular time and overtime, Spieker shot down seven saves, including leaking her goal and slipping to defeat Lucy Leel at the end of the second quarter.
“The team plays in front of her with a lot of self-confidence,” said Pankratz. “It’s just one of the main reasons we ran so well here. I’m proud of her.”
But Shahbo could also play at their end of the field and made five saves. Michigan pounds the Crimson keeper in the fourth quarter alone with six shots and three penalty corners.
The Harvard Defense blocked an Anouk Veen shot from one penalty corner early in the fourth quarter, leading to another penalty corner, with the Crimson denying Sofia Southam. A late-regulation shot from a penalty corner by Kathryn Peterson missed. Michigan also had a shot from Clarke that narrowly missed, and moments later Anderson was able to work up another chance with a takeaway, but her shot sailed high.
The game was originally scheduled to start at 1pm, but snow began to cover the field in the late morning and early afternoon. The crews were working to evacuate it and eventually the game started at 4pm, although the temperature was still hovering around freezing and snow began to fall again in the second half.
“I think we did our best under the circumstances,” said O’Neill. “We left everything outside. I regret nothing. I hope no one else on the team does that either. We fought our way through a blizzard and couldn’t ask for much more. “