Powered by a two-goal, one-assist perfomance by forward Richard Berkman, the Harvard men's soccer team ambushed the UMass Minutemen, 3-2, in overtime yesterday at Amherst.
Berkman clinched the Crimson win with a penalty kick goal at 3:16 in the second overtime after midfielder Mauro Keller-Sarmiento was tripped as he slid past his marker in the UMass penalty box.
The Minutemen opened the scoring early. Taking a through ball from captain Antonio Diaz, forward Michael Gibbons hit a 23-yard rocket past charging Crimson sweeper Peter Sergienko and eat goalkeeper Peter Walsh to the left post at 1:10.
"They caught us off guard, I'm not even sure what exactly happened," senior stopper John Duggan said.
Rebounding from the UMass surprise attack, the booters took control of the flow of the game, relying on the hustle of halfbacks Keller-Sarmiento and Jay Hooper--making his first start of year--in a new 4-2-4 formation.
Despite strong wing play by forwards Leo Lanzillo and Mike Mogollon, the Crimson could not find the back of the Umass net.
Adding to the booters' woes, the unsympathetic Minutemen tallied again at 50:02 on a deflected shot by midfielder Vince Foti. Foti collected a clearance 18 yards out and knocked the ball off the left post and into the twines.
"When you're two goals down, you're not sure you can make it up in time," Duggan said.
Two goals to tie the game with less than 15 minutes to play gave the booters the extra 20 minutes of OT to clinch the match. Berkman opened the Crimson scoring with a penalty kick goal at 74:44. The referee awarded the hotly contested charity chip after striker lance Ayrault was taken down in the UMass penalty box.
"Lance could've been called for pushing off when he got the ball," Sergienko said yesterday, adding that "he [Ayrault] was clearly fouled after he went by his man."
The booters' ball control ad methodic buildups paid off at 79:35 when Berkman found Ayrault in the Minutemen goalmouth with a long through pass. Ayrault took the ball past the UMass net, then hit a blast on the turn into the left corner of the goal, setting up the chance for Berkman's game-winner.
"They were hustlers, real aggressive, but we closed them down and kept the pressure on them." Duggan said, adding that in the second half the Minutemen resorted to hopeful long balls that the Crimson backline handled easily.
"The game gave us a chance to experiment," Sergienko said of the premiere of the 4-2-4 alignment and the numerous Crimson substitutions. The experiment succeeded in creating a deliberate attack that began with Walsh's distributions and developed with precise passing.
The booters, now 5-6-2, next face UPenn Saturday at the Business School field.