Dominating Brown in the second half and loosened up by a scoreless tie-breaking goal by Chris Papagianis mid-way through the third quarter, Harvard's soccer team streaked to a 3-0 victory and its third straight NCAA Division I championship.
The victory puts Harvard into a Saturday rematch of last year's quarterfinal contest against Hartwick, who again won the Division II title, this year with a 4-1 win over Cornell. Last year the Warriors edged the Crimson 4-3.
Scoring two goals, Papagianis paced the Crimson attack along with Felix Adedeji, who netted a goal and an assist, and captain Charlie Thomas, who set up two of Harvard's goals. Crimson goalie Shep Messing played a strong game, recording his fourth shutout of the season while making 11 saves.
"Today's game has to rank as one of the best we've played all year," Harvard Coach Bruce Munro said. Both teams started the game strong but Harvard appeared to have the upper hand in the first quarter, while the Bruins controlled the pressure in the second period. The teams left a firm field at intermission, knotted in a scoreless deadlock.
"We didn't convert in the first half, that was the key to the game," Brown coach Cliff Stephenson said. "We outplayed them in the second quarter but it was just a question of our forwards not capitalizing on some openings."
Papagianis's first goal untracked the Crimson attack and started it moving. Adedeji sent the ball in front of the Brown net and goalie Paul Neary, Thomas and Papagianis went up for it on the right side. It hit Neary on the forearms and in a shuffle, Papagianis, promptly drilled it home.
"I had that shot," Neary said. "I grabbed it tight and Adedeji illegally punched it out!" "It bounced right off his arms, he didn't have possession for a second," Papagianis said. "The ref was right there and he knew the guy simply missed it."
Crimson Perks Up
The Crimson attack perked up as Harvard grabbed the lead and a constant assault on Neary finally produced a goal by Adedeji with four seconds remaining in the third period. Thomas picked up the assist as he sent a pass to Adedeji streaking down the side. Adedeji outraced the fullback and sent a beautiful line drive into the right corner from about 23 yards out.
Papagianis finished out the scoring in the fourth period as Adedeji hit Thomas right in stride with a pass. Thomas shot it ahead to Papagianis, who pulled a true finesse shot. "The goalie hesitated and that was his mistake," Papagianis explained. "He finally came out, I faked a shot, he went down on an angle, and I chipped it over him."
"Paul never should have come out on that one," Stephenson said. "Papagianis looked up, saw what was happening and put it right over his head."
Harvard's shooting advantage of 12 to 9 was largely a function of the Crimson's strong play in the second half when the attack settled down to a ball-control, yet hard pressing attack. Long crossing passes to the opposite wings were used effectively and allowed deep penetration by the consistently open men on the side.
The defense was extremely strong and completely neutralized the Bruins powerful wings Henry Jessup and Dick Lay, who were both rendered ineffective all afternoon, by Chris Wilmot, Brian Fearnett, Rick Scott, and the Crimson's familiar diamond defense