Field Hockey

Syracuse field hockey opponent preview: What to know about Harvard

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

Syracuse field hockey is set to face Harvard in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Orange won the national championship last year, but is coming off a first-round ACC tournament loss to Wake Forest

Despite a surprising first-round exit from the ACC tournament with a 4-3 overtime loss to Wake Forest, Syracuse earned the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. Third-seeded Syracuse hosts 16th-seeded Harvard this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at J.S Coyne stadium.

All-Time series: This is the first ever meeting between the two programs.

Common opponents this season: Both Syracuse and Harvard played four common opponents during the regular season, including Boston University, Cornell, Pennsylvania, and Boston College. The Orange went undefeated against the four teams, outscoring its opponents 14-2. Meanwhile, the Crimson managed a 3-1 record against common opponents, outscoring them, 10-6.

The Harvard report: Harvard won the Ivy league boasting an undefeated 7-0 record in conference play. The Crimson ranked 15th in the nation entering the tournament.

Harvard relies on its defense to keep opponents at bay. The Crimson rank 12th in the NCAA with a 1.44 goals against average.

The Harvard attack comes from the midfield, where all three of its top point-scorers play. Senior Marissa Balleza leads the way for the Crimson with 13 goals and three assists on the season. She is followed by Freshman Bente Van Vlijmen, who has 8 goals in her first year with Harvard, and Ellie Cookson, who hasn’t scored a goal but has assisted on 10 this season.

The Harvard offense, however, has struggled this season as it ranks 44th in the NCAA in goals per game averaging just over two per game.

How Syracuse beats Harvard: The Orange is the more balanced team heading into the first round of the tournament. If Syracuse reaches its average number of goals, more than three per game, it will likely outscore a struggling Harvard offense. As the heavy favorites, it will take a standard performance from the Orange to outlast the Crimson this Saturday.

Stat to Know: 6-0 — Syracuse is undefeated at J.S Coyne stadium this season. Harvard has lost three games on the road.

Player to Watch: Bente Van Vlijmen, No. 10, Midfielder.

The Ivy league rookie of the year has tallied four goals in Harvard’s last two games. If Harvard hopes to keep up with Syracuse’s potent offense, the Crimson will need an outstanding performance from the freshman midfielder.

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