NEW YORK - Senior forward Adriana de Vries saved the best performance of her career for her final game, scoring the game-winner 38 seconds into the game and assisting on another goal as the Columbia field hockey team celebrated Friday's Senior Day with a convincing 3-0 victory over Harvard.
Columbia (9-8, 5-2 Ivy League) honored seniors Carson Christus, de Vries, Leti Freaney, Maggie O'Connor and Desi Scherf with a pre-game Senior Day ceremony. The quintet has been a vital part to the Lions' success over the past four years. With de Vries' goal and assist on Friday night, they have now contributed (goal or assist) on 43 percent of Columbia's goals from 2008-11. The group is also has the second highest win-percentage (.574) of any Columbia field hockey class. All five seniors started the game and played significant roles in the Lions' big win.
Columbia has now concluded its season with a win over Harvard (8-9, 3-4 Ivy League) for five straight years.
The Lions controlled the pace of the game from the start, opening with an aggressive advance up the field. Just 38 seconds into the game, junior Gabby Kozlowski found de Vries flying toward the net and the senior from Pittsburgh, Pa., made a diving swipe at the ball to get it past Harvard goalkeeper Cynthia Tassopoulos, who led the Ivy League and ranked fifth in the nation with 9.25 saves per game entering Friday.
Columbia would not let up its relentless attack. The Lions out-possessed Harvard all game and made key defensive stops when the Crimson made its runs at the goal. Junior goalkeeper Christie O'Hara made her first save of the day at 6:39 when she deflected a shot by Harvard's Carly Dickson off a penalty corner.
At the 11:24 mark, de Vries made a quick pass to the inside to find sophomore Liz Malone waiting to score Columbia's second goal of the game on a tap in.
The Lions kept the pressure on over the next 15 minutes, shooting three more shots - two of which were saved while one was blocked.
Harvard tried a furious rally in the final minute of the first half as O'Hara made two saves on three shots just before the break.
Sophomore Anna Tichy gave the Lions a 3-0 advantage at 53:23. After Tassopoulos knocked away a shot by Kozlowski a few seconds earlier, Tichy gathered the rebound and sent one in, unassisted.
Columbia enjoyed a 12-7 shots advantage and both teams had four penalty corners apiece.
O'Hara finished the game with four saves and completed the year with a career-high 120 saves.
Kozlowski finished the year as Columbia's leader in goals (10) and points (22). Freaney's three game-winners on the year were a team high and junior Paige Simmons paced the team with five assists. Junior Katie DeSandis led the team with six defensive saves on the season.
Princeton defeated Penn, 3-0, in their 7:15 p.m. game Friday night to eliminate Columbia's chances at a share of the conference title.
However, the Lions' fierce and inspired play against Harvard showed that Columbia, in its second year under the direction of head coach Marybeth Freeman, has established itself in the upper echelon of Ivy League field hockey. The Lions will finish the season just one game back of first place in the conference. While it graduates the gritty group of Christus, de Vries, Freaney, O'Connor and Scherf, Columbia will return the core of its defense and two of its top three offensive players in 2012 and the Lions will be poised to make another exciting run at the league title.