With two minutes and 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, junior midfielder Kelsey Farkas found the back of the net off an assist from senior midfielder Jennifer Trieschman, bringing the season’s last contest with Harvard to a final score of 2-1.
As the last two minutes ticked away, the Lions (7-9, 3-4 Ivy) couldn’t manage any more offense, and No. 17 Harvard (13-4, 6-1 Ivy) dribbled out the clock to secure a win. With this loss, the Light Blue finished its season fifth in the Ivy League.
The Crimson began the scoring with a first-quarter goal from midfielder Bente van Vlijmen in the 13th minute of play, sending a goal past junior goalkeeper Alexa Conomikes after a penalty corner. Then, following a scoreless second quarter, van Vlijmen struck again, launching a reverse shot from the top of the defensive circle to put the Crimson up 2-0.
The Lions kept fighting, though, and were finally able to show offensive progress late in the game.
“Our mentality going into the game was putting our foot on the gas pedal, so I think we just kept pushing and that’s when we finally got the chances that we were looking for,” Farkas said.
In the fourth quarter, the Light Blue put together an energetic attack, attempting six shots, doubling its total number of shots before the fourth quarter. However, Columbia was unable to connect on most of these opportunities, falling victim to a stout Harvard defense that blocked and saved four shots in the fourth quarter alone.
“We generated a bunch of opportunities. Had a couple fallen our way, I think the landscape of the game would have been different,” head coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols said.
For the Lions, who have a 6-17 all-time record against Harvard and lost to the Crimson 6-0 last year, the hard-fought 2-1 loss showcases the team’s growth, a trend that the team hopes to continue moving forward.
“I’m super excited; I think we’ve built a strong foundation this season, and our seniors have done an awesome job building that foundation, so I think it’s going to be a good year next year,” Farkas said.
For those seniors, Saturday’s loss to Harvard was the last game of their careers. The Light Blue will lose four seniors: captain and back Kelly McCarthy, the group’s third-highest goalscorer Trieschman, midfielder Maaike Blindenbach, and midfielder Emma Wiklund.
“We really believed in what we could do this season, and I’m really happy with what we’ve done, and I’ve never felt more confident handing the team over, especially to our amazing class of juniors. They’re going to do a great job,” McCarthy said.
The Lions have also seen an impressive contribution from underclassmen all season, as sophomore midfielder Allison Smith leads the team with eight goals and sophomore midfielder/back Brooke Gasser has provided a team-high eight assists. First-year forward Ellie Decker also emerged as a scoring threat, notching the second hat trick in school history and adding two game-winning goals.
For Nelson-Nichols, her underclassmen’s success brings a lot of hope moving forward.
“They’ve grown every game, and I think that growth is going to be the catalyst for our success next season, hopefully.”
As for McCarthy, who has started 60 games in her time as a Lion, playing her last game signals the end of an era. Fighting back tears, she spoke about how much her career has meant to her, saying, “I can’t put it into words. This has been the most special four years of my life, for sure. … These are my best friends.”