NEW YORK--One ain't a lot, but when one's all you need, one is enough.
The Harvard men's soccer team managed only a single second half shot against Columbia here Saturday, but that one shot--a boot from Ryan Chew off of a Ramy Rajballie corner kick--found the net and was enough to lead Harvard to a 3-2 victory in a crucial Ivy League match-up
The win, coupled with the Crimson's 1-0 win over MIT last Wednesday, lifted the booters to 2-0 (1-0 Ivy) on the young season. More important, it put Harvard a game up over Columbia, which ruled the Ivies from 1978-'85.
On a wet and muddy field, Harvard struck twice early and looked to have put the game out of reach. Just six minutes into the contest, back Andy Dale sent a beautiful cross into the Columbia goal area, where David Kramer tapped it past diving Lion keeper Jeff Micheli.
Less than a minute later, the Crimson's lead was increased to two on a freak play that had the 600 partisan fans gasping in disbelief and agony. With no Harvard attackers near, freshman Columbia defender Sigurdur Valtysson tried to head an easy ball back to Michelli.
But the Columbia goalie had set himself to catch the ball himself, and could not react in time as the Valtysson-headed ball skidded past him and across crease.
The teams changed ends after the break, and the new orientation seemed to do wonders for the Columbia attack. The Lions peppered Harvard goalie Stephen Hall with 16 shots in the second half, and only the stand-out play of Hall prevented more than two from finding the net.
Those two Lion tallies, coming four minutes apart in the middle of the second half, knotted the score, and with the game's momentum clearly in Columbia's favor, it seemed only a matter of time before the Lions struck again.
But it was the Crimson who ended up staging a victory party. At the 33:47 mark of the second half, Rajballie arced his corner kick into the Columbia goalie box. There, midfielder Richard Knight redirected the ball to Chew, who slammed into an open corner of the net. The goal seemed to deflate the Lions' rampage, and a few final saves by Hall secured the win.
Harvard's offense was hampered by the absence of the injured Derek Mills, last season's scoring leader. The sophomore might have been able to play on his injured knee, but was held out by Coach Mike Getman.
The Mill-less Crimson managed only six shots all game, but fortunately, two of those found their mark. And even more fortunately, the Lions gave Harvard a critical third tally.
"We got away with one against a very good team," Getman admitted.