Since the convincing win against Columbia two weeks ago, the Harvard men's soccer team has suffered a number of injuries to key players and has been inconsistent in its intensity. It seemed as if the team was in need of an emotional boost to push them through the middle of their schedule.
The Crimson may have just found it.
Saturday's game against Yale at New Haven, always an emotional contest, was one of the most intense efforts put forth by Harvard all season.
And at the end of the day, despite miserable weather, Harvard (5-4-2 overall, 3-1-0 Ivy) came away with a 3-1 win over yale (3-6-1, 0-3-0).
"We played our heart yesterday," junior forward Will Kohler said.
Kohler especially played his heart out, to the dismay of the Yale fans, who hounded Kohler all afternoon.
Harvard's first goal came at the 10 minute mark, when Kohler sent a direct kick to junior midfielder T.J. Carella, who was charging the net.
The crafty Carella approached the ball, but instead of kicking it, he let it go through his legs--goading the goalie into diving where Carella faked his kick, allowing the ball to find its way into the net.
"He totally fooled the goalie," Kohler said.
Yale came back to tie the game on a penalty kick, leaving the games tied after the first half.
The Crimson, aware of the importance of this game from an emotional standpoint, would not be denied. And it would be the Yale' fans favorite player, Kohler, who led the second half charge.
Kohler had been suffering from leg cramps for much of the game, and had to leave at one point because of the pain. Yale's fans wouldn't let up, and turned up their harassment as Kohler took his seat on the bench.
And at that point, enough was enough for Kohler.
With a little more than 15 minutes remaining in the game, Kohler took a feed from captain Chris Wojcik at the corner of the penalty box and he fired a shot at the far post, beyond the reach of Yale's goalie, to give Harvard a 2-1 lead.
Kohler, having taken so much abuse from Yale's fans, decided to return the favor.
Kohler took off his jersey, turned it around so that his number 5 faced the crowd and waved it in their faces.
"I guess they didn't like me too much," Kohler said with a smile.
Harvard's final goal came only two minutes after Kohler revenge, and Kohler was yet again at the center of the action.
Kohler took a corner kick and sent it toward the far post, where Carella met the ball and headed it back across the middle of the goal. There, freshman forward Zach Viders headed the ball into the net for Harvard's first goal on a corner kick this season.
Kohler's game was perhaps one of his best games in (or briefly, out of) a Harvard uniform.
"Will Kohler was magnificent yesterday," Harvard coach Stephen Locker said. "He showed real leadership out there."
The team now has won three of its four Ivy games, and is still on track to contend for the Ivy title. And it seems to have rekindled the emotional fire essential on any championship squad. Harvard 3 Yale 1
HARVARD, 3-1 (SATURDAY) at West Haven, Conn. Harvard 1 2 -- 3> Yale 1 0 -- 1
Har--Kohler 6 (unassist) 12:00.
Yale--Guzman (unassosted) 31:46.
Har--Kohler 7 (Wojcik) 73:12.
Har--Viders 4 (Carella, Kohler) 75:59.
Saves: Har--Albers 10; Yale--Sulline 4.