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Ben Goldsmith / Senior Staff Photographer

Field hockey lost to Harvard on Sunday but had its best season finish since 2014.

Columbia field hockey suffered a 4-0 Senior Day loss to Harvard on Sunday, but the defeat did not completely taint the successful 2017 season.

The Lions (9-8, 4-3 Ivy) entered the weekend looking to finish second in the Ivy League and end their season on a high note against Harvard (13-4, 6-1 Ivy). The Crimson’s attack, however, overpowered Columbia’s defense as the Lions fell 4-0 to Harvard, a loss that head coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols attributed to the defense’s inconsistency.

“We did it for pieces of the game, but we couldn’t quite tile the pieces together,” Nelson-Nichols said.

On the other end of the field, the Light Blue attack managed little retaliation. The Crimson not only outscored the Lions, but also outshot them 26 to one.

The Crimson jumped on the board early with a goal in the sixth minute, but Columbia’s defense held Harvard scoreless for the rest of the first half.

Harvard’s offense took total control in the second half, scoring in the 54th, 56th, and 61st minutes. Junior goalkeeper Katie Dempsey posted an impressive 10 saves in the second half, but she could not single-handedly keep the Lions in the match. With just one shot on the day, Columbia had little chance of coming back from the 4-0 deficit.

“We stayed in the game for a while, but I think at the end of the day the lack of consistency we were able to bring to our play wasn’t quite enough for us to win,” Nelson-Nichols said.

Although the Lions had hoped to end their season on a win, Sunday’s loss still marked the end of a successful 2017 campaign for the Light Blue. Field hockey posted a winning record in both Ivy League and non-conference play for the first time since 2014, and Nelson-Nichols praised the effort the Lions put forth to do so.

“The ladies did a great job this year. They worked really hard in the training environment, to set themselves up for success in the competition environment,” Nelson-Nichols said.

Although Columbia is a relatively young team, integral seniors Maeve Doherty, Michelle Thompson, Rebecca Pope, Lauren Crane, and Whitney Hartstone wrapped up their college careers on Sunday.

“My class, we’ve given all we can to this Columbia program and have given so much to this game,” Doherty said. “It’s been an honor to play at Columbia.”

Doherty was the Lions’ leader in points, goals, and assists (32 points, 11 goals, and 10 assists) for the 2017 season, and she finished tied for third in points for the Ivy League this past season.

The Lions faced some tough nonconference opponents in 2017, competing against nationally-ranked programs like No. 3 University of Virginia and No. 9 University of Delaware. The Light Blue continues to challenge itself with tough tough schedules as it looks to create a national profile.

With a strong Ivy League season,the Lions have established themselves as a significant force within the Ancient Eight. With two of the Lions’ three Ivy losses coming from first-place Princeton and second-place Harvard, championship contention may not be far off for the Light Blue.

“It was the first steps to building our brand,” said Dempsey, who, like many players on this year’s roster, will return next season.

Overall, coaches, players, and fans all view the 2017 season as a success and look towards next year with great optimism.

anthony.montes@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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