The third-ranked Harvard booters moved a step closer to the NCAA finals in Miami yesterday as a sudden-death goal by Chris Papagianis in the second 15-minute overtime, and outstanding goaltending by Steve kidder lifted the Crimson to a 3-2 win over Brown and its fourth straight New England regional title.
Papagianis's goal, his second of the afternoon, sent the Crimson partisans in a sporse crowd of 1000 into a frenzy as his exhausted teammates surrounded and hugged the superlative senior forward in the squad's of triumph.
The win enables Harvard to meet Cornell at Ithaca on Saturday for a possible return, trip to the Orange Bowl and yet another shot at the elusive national championship.
It was a day for heroics. Each of the 13 players used by head coach Bruce Munro contributed to the Crimson cause during the course of the 110-minute struggle, but none played as important a part in Harvard's victory as Kidder. Time and again the junior netminder came up with the crucial save, many them retrieving the ball in traffic. Presented with the unenviable task of trying to thwart two penalty kicks in the second half. Kidder stopped the first and barely missed brushing aside the second.
In fact, until a tripping infraction with 2-46 remaining in regulation play gave Brown a rare second opportunity to the score at 2-2 it appeared that Harvard was going to eke out a 2-1 win. A perfectly-placed Papagianis chip shot with 4-23 gone in the second half had given the Crimson the lead.
And, although it was the Bruins who were applying most of the offensive pressure thereafter, the Harvard defense continued to play solid, consistent soccer, thwarting numerous Brown scoring chances.
But a hand ball in the penalty area gave Brown its first opportunity to deadlock the game with 11:45 left, and while the loudly social Bruin fans gasped in disbelief Ferdinand Treusacher's ground ball shot to the left side was pushed aside by Kidder and Harvard's 2-1 edge was preserved at least for the moment.
With the game entering its final stages, and play continuing deep in the Crimson end despite the fact that Demetrio Mena lay prone on the field with a leg injury, the referee's whistle stopped play, not to and the injured Mena but to call a penalty kick. This time Ireusacher's shot, a carbon copy of his first attempt, but slightly harder, eluded goalie for the trying score.
The stage was set for the overtime battle, and Imgering memories of Brown's 3-2 upset overtime win 11 days ago must have been foremost in the minds of the Crimson as it took the field for the first of a possible four 15-minute sudden-death periods alloted under the tournament rules which governed the contest.
As in its earlier overtime win, Brown came out charging at the beginning of the first session. Captain Rick. Scott, who played another outstanding game, made two crucial plays to stop Bruin drives, saving a goal on one and preventing a dangerous corner kick on the second occasion. After several Kidder saves and Brown threats, the first overtime period ended.
But it was Harvard which took command as the game pushed past the 100-minute mark, into the second overtime. The Crimson's second corner kick of the overtime was kicked around in front, where Papagianis headed it home for the winning score, as he once again assumed the role of the hero.
The excitement and tension of the later stages of the game contrasted sharply with the initial period, which was sluggish at best. Both teams appeared nervous and conservative for much of the first 15 minutes, with Harvard looking somewhat sloppy in its own end and disorganized offensively. But the Crimson drew first blood when a Bruin defensive error, a race between Felix Adedeji breakaway goal put Harvard ahead at 7:55 of the first half, 1-0.
Brown began to take offensive command after Adedeji's goal, taking numerous shots on goal and getting a high number of corner kick opportunities. The Harvard goal, instead of igniting the squad, made the team more lethargic, and for much of the period the Crimson's passing was noticeably slow. Rarely did Harvard put two or three passes together, and Brown's hustle and height advantage resulted in almost continual play in the Harvard end.
But the Crimson got a lucky break when starting goalie Neary suffered a fractured big toe and had to be removed from the game. Brown's second string goalie, Mike Hampdon, was injured, so sub Barry Whittaker was forced to fill in. Harvard did little shooting to test the new goalie, however, and Brown continued to dominate play.
Brown's pressure was finally converted into a score as an indirect kick was shuffled around in front and in the scramble Frank Mancuso kicked the ball home through a screen of Harvard and Brown players to tie the score at 1-1 with 6-11 left in the half.
Harvard took the lead on Papagianis's first goal early in the second half as a pretty passing play from Dragan Vujovic to Brahman Mossavar Rahmani to Papa fooled the Brown goalie. Whittakar came out of the goal mouth and Papagianis floated a soft shot over his head for the score.
The game was a statistician's delight Brown outshot Harvard by a 2-1 margin (25-12), but the Crimson's first shots on goal in the first half, the second stanza and the second overtime all resulted in unassisted scores. Harvard goalie Steve Kidder was forced to make 11 saves while Brown goalie Barry Whittaker made only seven.
"They had the run of the play for much of the second half," head coach Bruce Munro said after the game, beaming after winning the last home game of the season in his 25th year of Harvard coaching "We lucked this one out," he added. Captain Scott thought that the Crimson's dreams of a return trip to the Orange Bowl might have affected the outcome "Having been to Miami once we had much more incentive to go again."
"We outplayed Harvard in both halves," a disconsolate Brown coach Cliff Stevenson said in the losers' lockrroom. "We played an excellent game, and had the opportunities, but couldn't put them in," he added. Sometimes, the ball bounces the other way.