M. Soccer Opens Season With a Loss
Harvard (0-1) held the lead for approximately 71 out of the game's 91 minutes. At the end, however, the scoreboard showed the visiting Providence Friars (2-0-1) on top of the Crimson by a score of 3-2 thanks to two quick goals late in the contest.
"We played very well today," Harvard coach John Kerr said, "we controlled most of the game. We were just punished for some slack defense at the end."
The Crimson stormed out of the gate in its season opener, immediately attacking the Friars' defense. After some early pressure, Harvard was able to break through just 1:27 into the contest.
The scoring play began with a Crimson corner kick. The corner kick was headed at the net but saved by Providence goalie Mike Cardenas. The rebound, however, hit the crossbar and was promptly headed back into the net by sophomore forward Jon Oslowski to give Harvard a 1-0 lead.
The Crimson did not stop there, as it continued to apply pressure on Providence over the next few minutes. Only the Friar's tough defensive play kept the Crimson out of the net.
And after surviving the early onslaught, Providence was able to counter with some pressure of its own.
Sophomore goalie Mike Meagher was able to keep the ball out of the net for Harvard in the early going, diving and sprawling in all directions to jump on dangerous balls. Providence, however, soon seized a golden opportunity on a Harvard attack gone wrong.
With most of the Crimson players on the attack, a Friar midfielder intercepted a pass and charged in the other direction. After beating Harvard's last defender with some fancy ball handling, he was taken down hard in from behind in the box by a charging Crimson defender. Surprisingly, no card was given, but the damage was done as Providence was awarded a penalty kick. Captain Mike Eisenhut promptly beat Meagher low to the right to knot the game at one.
In a mix of anger and determination Harvard stormed right back after the goal. It took just 41 seconds for the Crimson to recapture the lead.
Harvard took control of the ball deep in Providence territory. The crowd squirmed and sweated as the Crimson passed the ball from one offensive player to the next just a few yards from the net without attempting a shot. Finally, senior forward Will Hench took a pass from sophomore Mike Peller with his back to the goal. Hench then whirled and unleashed a screaming shot to the upper left corner of the net, just past the outstretched arms of the diving Cardenas.
The rest of the half saw the action go back and forth with no further scoring. Harvard had a chance when senior Armando Petruccelli led an attack, gliding by numerous Providence defenders. After a beautiful pass, an open Oslowski unleashed a shot on goal from close range that sailed just over the net and the head of a relieved Cardenas.
Providence then came back with a chance of its own. A corner kick sailed over the Harvard defenders and the ball ended up bouncing dangerously close to the net. Fortunately for the Crimson an attempted bicycle kick flew wide to the left keeping Harvard ahead by one at the intermission.
The second half saw the Friars storm out of the gate with a flurry of offensive chances. But two corner kicks and a dangerous free kick amounted to nothing thanks to a stifling Harvard defense--led by junior captain Ryan Kelly--as well as several diving saves by Meagher.
With the clock winding down, Providence seemed to get desperate and began taking chances. But despite the Friars' aggressive play it was a Crimson blunder that led to a game-tying goal with only six and a half minutes to play.
Meagher was whistled for a handball after picking up a kicked pass from one of his own defenders, and the Friars went into action. Junior captain Kevin Jones scrambled to grab the ball and sent a quick pass before the Harvard players could set up to sophomore Keith Dorsey. Dorsey took the pass and promptly one-timed it past a stunned Meagher and into the net.
The momentum was now clearly with the Friars as the Crimson struggled to hang on. Harvard continued to fight valiantly, warding off numerous Providence attacks. The Crimson was even able to muster a few chances of its own, but it was to no avail as regulation ended with the score deadlocked at two.
It would not remain tied for long, however, as the Friars put together the game-winning goal just 1:26 into the first period in sudden-death overtime.
A long Providence goal kick deflected off of a Harvard defender and into the possession of a Providence midfielder who sent a lead pass to Jones. Meagher and Jones raced after the ball, but the Crimson goaltender was a step too slow as Jones beat him to the ball and sent a roller into a wide open net for the victory. Jones was mobbed by teammates as the Crimson slumped over in a stunned silence.
Harvard will now look to rebound quickly, as it now takes on Creighton--a national powerhouse--on Friday afternoon at Ohiri Field. Despite the heartbreaking loss to the Friars, the Crimson is optimistic about its chances.
"Today was a good test for us," Kerr said. "We have a tough game [Friday], but if our ball possession is a little better, I think we have a good chance."