The Harvard soccer team, taking advantage of a porous Columbia defense, broke out of its scoring doldrums Saturday as it evened its season record at 2-2-1 with an easy 3-1 win over the Lions. The game was never as close as the final score.
After failing to pick up goals in its last two outings, the Crimson finally found the scoring range in its Ivy League opener as the offense repeatedly broke through the Columbia fullbacks for shots on the harassed Lion goalie. In fact, had several easy scoring opportunities not gone astray, Harvard's goal total might easily have gone considerably higher.
Columbia showed the sun--drenched crowd why it finishes at the bottom of the league year after year as it turned in a particularly lackluster performance in almost every aspect of the game. The contest was so one-sided in fact that it often appeared as if the two teams had decided to play the game in the Columbia half of the playing field exclusively.
Harvard, which has had serious difficulties scoring thus far this season, recording only one goal in three games, got on the scoreboard early in the first half on a fine individual effort by J.P. Gilbert. Gilbert, who had not been expected to play because of a score foot, took a cross from Mario Gobbo, trapped the ball, and fired it home from 15 yards out.
Columbia, shackled all day long by another strong effort by the Harvard defense, tied the game at 1-1 midway through the first period on a fluke mistake by Crimson fullback Brian Fearnett.
Fearnett, trying to cut off a Lion breakaway, got control of the ball and played it back to Harvard goalie Steve Kidder. But his pass took off and into the top of the net. Ironically, it was the first goal given up this fall by captain Kidder.
The Crimson continued to pressure Columbia the rest of the half but failed to convert its chances as the period ended with the Lions lucky enough to hold Harvard to a 1-1 tie.
But it was only a matter of time before the Crimson scored again as Harvard cut off most Columbia offensive forays at midfield and the offense peppered the Lion goal with shots.
After several exasperating misses, the Crimson got the go-ahead and winning goal midway through the period when Fuzzy Auritt took a pass from Steve Hines and chipped it in front where Tony Van Niel scored on his own rebound.
The Harvard offense responded to the Van Niel goal with more unrelenting pressure on Columbia, picking up several corner kicks as it looked for the insurance tally. With Harvard in complete command and holding a wide territorial edge, the Crimson fullbacks became more offensive-minded and the strategy paid off for the final goal.
Fullback Ralph Booth began a long, length-of-the-field rush with a pass down the right side to Auritt, who sent a beautiful grounder through the middle to a group of Harvard players where Leroy Thompson booted it home.
"It was a beautiful win," Steve Kidder said after a game, in which he was never tested. Kidder's appraisal not-withstanding, Columbia is undoubtably the poorest team the Crimson will play all season.
With tough games this week against UConn (which lost to national soccer powerhouse St. Louis 2-0) and Cornell (which returns the nucleus of the squad which eliminated a vastly different Harvard team in last year's NCAA playoffs), the Crimson will be hard pressed to match its three goal performance on Saturday.