It has been a difficult week for the Harvard men's soccer team.
Following a pair of impressive victories over league favorite Columbia and nationally-ranked B.U. last week, the Crimson expected nothing less than continued success going into games against Cornell on Sunday and Central Connecticut yesterday.
But it has not been. Central Connecticut defeated Harvard 3-0 yesterday in New Britain, Conn., while the Big Red blanked Harvard 1-0 on Sunday.
A stunned Harvard never recovered from a Central Connecticut score with less than seven minutes gone in the first half. Central Connecticut's Sean Duzant controlled the ball on the run and fired a ground shot to the right side of the net from around the 18-yard line.
"The first goal shocked us because it was so early," captain Chris Wojcik said. "It hurt us, but we did manage to settle down."
Harvard managed to even out play and keep Central Connecticut off the board for the remainder of the half, but Central Connecticut struck again on almost the same situation at the beginning of the second half.
"The mood was to keep plugging away and try to get one back," Wojcik said. "Unfortunately, we didn't."
With under four minutes gone, Steven Yanosky launched another long ball past Harvard goalie Pete Albers, who had three saves, and into the back of the net.
The third Connecticut goal was perhaps the prettiest play of the day but it also the final nail in the Crimson's coffin. Gareth Butcher hit a perfect left-to-right cross which Duzant headed into the net from six yards out near the far post.
"We had our opportunities," Wojcik said. "We didn't play our best game, but we definitely had opportunities that we didn't put away. I give them credit. They defended hard and played a long ball style that seemed to work for them."
But that doesn't mean it didn't hurt.
"They were not one of our toughest opponents, Wojcik said. "They were an average team.... The mood right now is frustration."
Harvard hosts Penn on Saturday, and the game looms large because it is unlikely that the Ivy League champion will drop more than one game.
"Right now, Penn is our most important game of the season," Wojcik said. "It's a league game and we have already lost one league game. From here on out, we can't drop any points in the league."
Central Connecticut pressured the Crimson early and often, taking advantage of Harvard's injury-depleted defensive corps for three goals on just eight shots.
The Crimson did manage to garner some offensive chances. Harvard--who struggled for offense against Cornell--accumulated 13 shots on goal.
It was the second consecutive game in which Harvard was shut out. Scoring CC--Duzant (Jarvis, Butcher), 6:45. CC--Yanosky (Peachy), 48:26. CC--Duzant (Butcher), 77:27. Saves: CC--Sardo 4; Har--Albers 3.
CC--Duzant (Jarvis, Butcher), 6:45.
CC--Yanosky (Peachy), 48:26.
CC--Duzant (Butcher), 77:27.
Saves: CC--Sardo 4; Har--Albers 3.