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Archive for November 14, 2021

Nov. 14, 2021 — A historical circle-back

Part of the canon of field hockey’s development in the U.S. is the fact that Constance Applebee came over to the United States from Liverpool on the S.S. Devonian passenger ship on June 22, 1901.

While a student at Radcliffe’s summer school, she demonstrated field hockey in a space where Harvard’s department of government studies sits. Applebee is credited for demonstrating, advocating, and sponsoring the sport in many locales across the U.S., although there are reports of the game being played at Springfield College and Goucher College several years before.

Radcliffe would gain varsity status in field hockey in 1974, in the midst of a long and incremental process of merging with Harvard, a process which started in 1946 and completed in 1999. But for all of Harvard’s long history in the sport, the varsity field hockey team has won only one major trophy in its history: the 2001 ECAC Division I championship.

This evening, however, the school sits on the precipice of winning a second — and much more significant — trophy. In the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division I field hockey tournament, the Crimson won a 3-0 penalty shootout after a gripping goalless draw against Michigan. Rachel Greenwood, Anna Tarrant, and Isa Gooijer all made their shots, while goalkeeper Ellie Shahbo withstood all of the Wolverines’ shot chances. This included a thrilling final shootout try in the third frame when Shahbo, having been separated from her stick in pursuit of Halle O’Neil, pushed the ball away with her now empty gauntlet as the 8-second buzzer sounded.

Shahbo’s push of the ball would have been whistled as a penalty stroke not so long ago. But then again, the game would have been played on grass, the shootout might have been replaced with an examination of two clocks at the scorer’s table for circle penetration time, and the name on the uniform might have been Radcliffe.

Times have changed. And now, Harvard is in the Final Four, just 120 minutes away from being the best team in NCAA Division I. Makes you wonder what Constance Applebee would say.