NEW YORK - The Columbia field hockey team closes out the 2011 regular season at home Friday night against Ivy League rival Harvard. There will be pre-game Senior Day festivities, as the Lions bid farewell to and celebrate the outstanding careers of graduating seniors Carson Christus, Adriana de Vries, Leti Freaney, Maggie O'Connor and Desi Scherf.
The game is slated for a 6:30 p.m. start and the pre-game Senior Day festivities will start at 6:15 p.m. The game will also feature a free live stats and a free live blog which will start at approximately 6 p.m.
Columbia (8-8, 4-2 Ivy League) still has a chance to earn a share of the 2011 Ivy League title. The Lions need to defeat Harvard (8-8, 3-3 Ivy League), have Princeton (8-7, 5-1 Ivy League) lose at Penn on Friday and have Yale (10-6, 5-1 Ivy League) fall to visiting Brown on Saturday.
The Lions are coming off a 1-0 home loss to Villanova on Oct. 30. First-year back Lauren Skudalski and junior goalkeeper Christie O'Hara shined in a strong defensive performance for Columbia, but an off-the-fly shot from the Wildcats' Maddy Harding following a penalty corner ended up being the difference.
Harvard is coming off a 4-3 overtime home loss to New Hampshire on Oct. 30. First-year forward Catriona McDonald scored two goals in the loss, including an unassisted rebound shot at 65:42 that sent the game in to overtime. UNH's Whitney Frates scored the game-winner at 71:35 from the top right corner after a penalty corner.
The game will feature two of the top goalkeepers in the nation in O'Hara and Harvard's Cynthia Tassopoulos. Both juniors rank in the top 10 in the nation in savers per game and in the top 11 in save percentage.
Columbia trails in its all-time series with Harvard, 4-10, but the Lions have won the past four meetings. From 2007-2010, Columbia has ended its season with a win over Harvard, outscoring the Crimson 10-4 in those games.
SUPER SENIOR CLASS
The class of 2011 has had a remarkable run at Columbia. Since 2008, the group of Carson Christus, Adriana de Vries, Leti Freaney, Maggie O'Connor and Desi Scherf has won 57 percent of its games - good for the second-best four-year stretch of any Lions class in program history.
The quintet has also played a large role in the Lions' success, scoring or assisting on over 42 percent of Columbia's goals from 2008 to now.
O'HARA ON HONOR ROLL
On Tuesday, O'Hara was named to Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll for the fifth time this year after playing 240 minutes and tallying 22 saves over Columbia's games against Lafayette, Yale and Villanova last week.
O'Hara posted her first shutout of the year in the Lions' thrilling 1-0 shootout victory over Lafayette on Oct. 25.
RANK AND FILE
After recording her sixth defensive save on the year against Yale on Oct. 28, Columbia junior back Katie DeSandis extended her Ivy League-leading season total to six. She is also now tied for seventh in the nation in defensive saves. Teammate Lauren Skudalski's four defensive saves are tied for 18th nationally and ranks third in the Ivy League.
With 13 defensive saves as a team, Columbia ranks fifth in the nation.
O'Hara ranks 10th in the nation with third in the Ivy League with her 8.29 saves per game average. Her .779 save percentage ranks 11th in the nation and second in the conference.
Freaney's three game-winners are tied for the most in the Ivy League.
Harvard and Columbia are about as even as it comes between two opponents. Both average 2.10 goals allowed per game and both also have practically identical scoring averages (Harvard 2.12, Columbia 2.00). Both teams average over eight saves per game and over six penalty corners per game.
The difference might come down to experience. Harvard has just two seniors on their squad while the Columbia has five who all see ample playing time.
First-year forward Noel Painter is Harvard's main offensive star as she leads the team with eight goals, five assists, 21 points and two game-winners. After Painter, the Crimson has five players who have scored three goals. Two of the most notable of that group are seniors Carky Dickson and Georgia McGillivray, who lead the team with 47 and 35 shots, respectively.
Junior goalkeeper Cynthia Tassopoulos has emerged as one of the top goalkeepers in the nation. Tassopoulos leads the Ivy League and ranks fifth in the nation with 9.25 saves per game. Her .813 save percentage is the second-best mark in the country.