W. Soccer Upsets No. 23 BC in 2OT
As she walked across the field in the driving rain after scoring the game-winning goal in the Harvard women's soccer team 2-1 double-overtime win over No. 23 Boston College yesterday, senior midfielder Meredith Stewart had just one thought on her mind.
"Revenge," she said. "Complete revenge."
Stewart remembers all too well how the Eagles invaded Ohiri Field last November in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and stunned the Crimson with a 1-0 shocker to end Harvard's season.
So she took extra pride yesterday when, in the 108th minute of a see-saw battle, she stared down a wall of B.C. defenders and unleashed a booming kick from 30 yards out that sailed through the extended arms of Eagles keeper Courtney Schaeffer and gave the Crimson (5-2, 1-1 Ivy) the upset victory.
The goal, which came off a place kick on a restart, was Stewart's second of the game.
"We have such a huge rivalry against BC," Stewart said. "This was
amazing. It was a great game."
The dramatic win will definitely improve the Crimson's standing in the Northeast regional rankings, and may even catapult them back into the National Top-25. Entering yesterday's contest, B.C. (9-4, 4-1 Big East) was ranked No. 3 in New England. Harvard was No. 5.
"We needed to win for rankings, but much more important than that, we
needed to win it for us," Harvard Coach Tim Wheaton said. "We knew we needed to test ourselves against a really good opponent. For us, it was a big step up to play a good team and pull out the win."
Coming off its success with a three-player front in its two wins in California this weekend, Harvard again elected to go with three forwards yesterday. The aggressive move paid off handsomely for the Crimson offense, which fired eleven shots on net in the first half alone.
Both teams traded prime scoring opportunities in the game's early going, but the match remained scoreless until the 23rd minute when Stewart netted the first of her two goals in a rather unlikely fashion.
After Eagles back Katherine Murphy was taken off the field with an injury following a scrum in front of the BC net, the Crimson was awarded a free kick from the left sideline. Stewart, who likely has the Crimson's surest foot on long kicks, lined up from 45 yards out and blasted the ball all the way into the far upper corner of the net.
The ball, which Schaeffer appeared to get a hand on, was still ascending as it reached the mouth of the goal.
"I was just trying to cross it towards the far post," Stewart said. "The wind just caught it, and luckily, the keeper tipped it in."
After Stewart's tally, the Crimson would threaten again several times, but Schaeffer held Harvard scoreless for the remainder of regulation. The Crimson's best chance after that came in the game's final minute with the score knotted at one.
With just thirty seconds left in regulation, freshman midfielder Kaite Westfall--the current Ivy League Rookie of the Week--drew Schaeffer out of position and tapped a bouncer towards the net. The ball appeared headed for the goal line, but took a bad hop and went wide.
Earlier in the second stanza, momentum belonged entirely to BC, as Harvard was slow getting out of the gate after the intermission. The Eagles controlled possession in the Crimson end for much of the half, as the Crimson appeared tired on defense.
"Anytime you have a break in action, you have to come out and get
refocused," Wheaton said. "They came out a little better than us in the
The Crimson was particularly at risk when the Eagles lined up for corner kicks. Throughout the entire game, BC created several scoring chances off corners, but Harvard managed to stave off all of those attacks.
"B.C. is really good in the air," Wheaton said. "They have one or two players who are just fantastic in the air. [Murphy], in particular, reads the ball really well. I don't know that we did a great job on that, but we were fortunate that she wasn't able to convert."
In the 65th minute, though, B.C. was able to break though. Eagles midfielder Sarah Rahko set up forward Katherine Halloran with a leading pass that lured Gunther out of the goal. Halloran was able to collect the pass before Gunther could smother it and she tucked it into the empty net for the equalizing tally.
Aside from that one lapse, Gunther was her usual reliable self in goal, making nine stops for the win.
She came under fire less in the extra-time sessions, as an inspired Harvard attack kept B.C. mostly on the defensive. In the first overtime period, the Crimson mounted a frenzied assault on Schaeffer, but came up just short.
Finally, in the second minute of the second overtime, Stewart was able to come through again for her second game winner of the year, and just like that, Harvard's loss to BC last year was avenged.
"With all the injuries and everything else we've faced this year, we've needed different people to step up," Wheaton said. "Meredith was the one who did it today. She was fantastic."
With the victory, the Crimson improves its winning streak to three games. Harvard also remains unbeaten in overtime games since the 1997 season, when the Crimson fell to Yale 3-2. In its nine games that have gone to extra time since then, the Crimson is 6-0-3.
This weekend the Crimson will attempt to continue its home-turf dominance at the Harvard Invitational against Cornell on Friday and Davidson on Sunday.