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Harvard Shuts Out Hard-Nosed AIC in NIRA

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Harvard Shuts Out Hard-Nosed AIC in NIRA

Cameron Fields offloads. Alex Goff photo.

Harvard defeated AIC 65-0 in a NIRA clash between a top DI side and a top DII side, but no one was talking about this game being a walkover.

Yes the Harvard team was more polished, more experienced, and connected the dots a little better (especially in the backline), but the AIC strength in contact and their commitment to play to the end will stand them in good stead in the DII conference to come.

Harvard got on the board early. A scrum in the middle of the field 10 meters inside the AIC half was a perfect opportunity to split the backs and run an 8-9 move to the right. This they did and the quick offloads off the deck had Harvard going forward and AIC scrambling. Finally one more pop off the deck and Tiahna Padilla was over in the corner.

The same attack with purpose put wing Lennox London down the sideline, and that was quickly followed up by flyhalf Brogan Mior selling a lobrlu dummy and exploiting the hole she made the go in for Harvard's third. 

After that AIC settled down a little and realized they were going to have to be very organized on transition defense. In addition, their forwards found that they could make ground up the middle.   ge5s pen middle of field at aix 10m

But as they began to string attacks together little errors started to creep into their game. Sometimes they were turnovers or missed passes, and other times they were penalties. From one such penalty Harvard methodically took the lineout, mauled it to the line, and put captain and hooker Carly Lehman finished it off.

Harvard uses two conversion kickers, with the left-footed Skylar Jordan kicking from the right side, and the right-footed Avan Ference from the left side. Both kicked well. This third conversion was probably Jordan's best.

The final few minutes of the first half were all Harvard. Jordan made a slicing run and got back up from the tackle to follow-on and get the return pass to score. Mior and Padillah combined to set up Cameron Fields for a romp down the sideline. That made it 36-0.

But AIC ended the half right on the tryline and had chances to ask serious questions of the Harvard defense. But they are a young team and that split-second decision-making (ruck over or take the offload?) was a shade slower than that of the Crimson.

The second half cruised along slowly for a while as Harvard Head Coach Mel Denham ran in some reserves. But they were pretty good reserves, with PK Vincze, coming off injury, eager to show that she's back and ready to terrorize defenses. Still the connections took a while to come back.

Freshman Maya Hilger got to play alongside her sister Sofia and scored two well-taken tries.

Meanwhile, AIC got close a few more times but frustratingly couldn't quite finish it off.

For the YellowJackets the back row of Haley Thompson, Zahira Roldan, and Keiani Pangelinan but in a ton of work, and did not back down. Their best attacking moments came thanks to first-year player Thompson. and first-year lock Mariah Cuarenta also had some big moments.

As Harvard cruised to a 65-0 victory, Pahillah shone as a playmaker and creator, showing a confidence that belies her years. Mior controlled field position well and was happy to throw in a counter-ruck when it was needed. Lehman and No. 8 Lucy Jacobsen were excellent also.

It wasn't perfect, said Denham, but she was pleased with the effort level and the communication level. Physically AIC tested Harvard and that, she said, will benefit them later. AIC took a lot of moments out of this from which they can build. Rather than being discouraged, they saw where they could be if they had just connected the dots a bit better.