PHILADELPHIA--Dominated by a persistent Penn offense and troubled by Franklin Field's artificial turf, the Harvard men's soccer team battled the Quakers to a double-overtime 1-1 time last night.
Only the efforts of Crimson goalie Ben Erulkar kept the visitors in the match. The junior turned away 19 Penn shots as Harvard played most of the game in its own end.
"Ben was just super," Crimson Coach George Ford drawled after the two-and-a-half-hour contest under the lights.
The tie dropped the Quakers out of a first-place tie for the Ivy-League lead it had shared with Columbia and Cornell. Now 8-3-3, the Quakers lost any chance of a bid to the NCAA regionals with the tie. The Crimson, on the other hand, moves to 9-4-1 (2-3-1 Ivy) and retains a slight chance for a wild-card bid in the New England region.
Harvard scored first when sophomore Lance Ayrault converted a perfect Mike Smith feed. Streaking down the right sideline, Smitty lofted the ball high in front of the goal, and Ayrault headed the pass into the top left corner of the net, past Penn's helpless goalie, Jim Tabak.
But after the Harvard score with 11:57 gone in the first half, the Quakers came to life and Erulkar had to fight off intruders the rest of the way.
Penn senior Nick Pietrowski, playing the last home game of his career, almost came up with the equalizer 20 seconds into the second half. He slipped by a surprised Harvard defense and broke in alone towards Erulkar, but the goalie came out to meet him, and a befuddled Pietrowski tapped the ball just over the crossbar.
But with a non-existent Harvard attack, a Penn conversion seemed inevitable. The Quakers finally evened the match when Bruce Becker banged home a winner after a scramble in front of the Crimson net with 8:17 remaining in regulation time.
Harvard could manage only an occasional foray into the Penn zone in the second half, the best opportunity coming when Smith challenged the Penn netminder one-on-one with just over six remaining. The Harvard captain, however, dribbled just a little too hard on the artificial surface and Tabak was able to thwart the potential tie-breaking effort.
Both teams had had problems scoring all season and as the game wound down neither team was able to generate a consistent attack. But it was a satisfied Harvard team that left the field, desperately trying to make an 11:30 p.m. flight home. A tie with the Quakers, victors over last year's NCAA semi-finalist Columbia, looked just fine.
THE NOTEBOOK: Penn drew a respectable crowd of 400 to the game on a balmy evening, but in the 65,000-seat capacity Franklin Field, the gathering looked like a 9 a.m. lecture in Science Center B... Twice in the game's waning moments, Penn striker Rick Sobel lofted powerful throw-ins at the Crimson net.