No. 4 Connecticut Squeaks Past No. 12 Harvard, 2-1
W. Soccer Falls Behind 2-0 Early; Late Rally Falls Short
If Kristen Bowes had one thing to do over in her life, there's not much doubt as to what it would be.
With two minutes left in the Harvard women's soccer team's game yesterday against the No. 4 UConn Huskies at Ohiri Field, Bowes and the Crimson faced a 2-1 deficit, but Bowes also faced a wide-open shot from 10 yards out. Only the goalie was in the way.
Bowes left-footed it hard and in the air towards the opposite corner, but that goalie--freshman Jennifer Traw--hyperextended her body upwards and snatched it. An inch or two higher, and the ball would have either deflected in or right to fellow Crimsonite Emily Stauffer.
But it didn't, and Harvard (11-1, 4-0 Ivy) didn't either, losing to one of the nation's top teams.
"I want to cry," said Bowes, a junior. "It's one of those things I'll be dreaming about for the rest of my life."
Beating UConn is something that Harvard has been dreaming about for a long time. The No. 12 team in the nation, the Crimson felt that this might be the year that it caught up to the Huskies, perennially the strongest team in the Northeast. Harvard almost won this game, and in many ways, should have won this game.
Both UConn goals were scored in the first 10 minutes of the first half, which seemingly took place in another decade than the second. For in the second half, when Harvard's midfielders dominated the play and sent ball after ball towards streaking forwards, the Crimson thoroughly outplayed the Huskies; the opposite was true in the first.
Especially in the game's first few moments, Harvard looked more like No. 412 in the nation than No. 12. Players weren't winning contested balls and seemed to be using a kick-it-downfield-and-pray strategy for counter-attacking.
Fewer than 90 seconds into the game, UConn's Tammy Barnes took a pass--a sideline throw-in--and dribbled past two defenders dead at Harvard goaltender Jennifer Burney, who had no chance to stop the low shot. Seven minutes later, a long pass found Kerry Conners alone in the box, and pretty much the same thing happened.
"We were really asleep for the first eight minutes and gave up two goals that we shouldn't have given up," Harvard coach Tim Wheaton said.
The Crimson was learning that the Huskies were very, very fast. On offense, UConn could send the ball downfield and let its forwards catch up to it, while on defense, backs Chrisy McCann, Sara Whalen, Carey Dom and Sally Sakerlaris were quick enough to outrun any long ball that Harvard sent downfield.
So as the game progressed, Harvard began to let the midfielders dribble or quick-pass the ball upfield, because although the Crimson was slower, its ball-handling skills were better.
"We have great center midfielders," Wheaton said. "Emily Stauffer is one of the great players in the country. We wanted to play there."
To their credit, the Huskies knew to double-and triple-team Stauffer--but UConn couldn't mark everyone. And with 35 minutes left in the game, junior Keren Gudeman was able to use her size to ward off the Husky defenders on a high kick from junior Rebe Glass, and headed it to sophomore Naomi Miller on the opposite post, who pushed it by Traw for the goal.
The score came only two minutes after Traw entered in the game for starting goaltender Sally Sakelaris, who was injured making a save on a corner kick.
That was the only goal Harvard would get in the game, but it was not the only chance. The Crimson dominated the second half, outshooting the Huskies 10-3--and 13-12 overall--but could not equalize.
A minute before Bowes' shot, Miller had an opportunity of her own on a corner kick, but her header was grabbed by Traw. And before that, both Stauffer and freshman Ashley Berman had good runs, only to be broken up by the Husky backfield. Scoring UConn--Barmes (Tietjen) 1:26. UConn--Connors (McCann, Tietjen) 8:27. Har--Miller (Gudeman, Glass) 53:13. Saves: UConn--Sakelaris 3, Traw 5; Har--Burney 3, Browning 1.
UConn--Barmes (Tietjen) 1:26.
UConn--Connors (McCann, Tietjen) 8:27.
Har--Miller (Gudeman, Glass) 53:13.
Saves: UConn--Sakelaris 3, Traw 5; Har--Burney 3, Browning 1.