“This is a huge regional rivalry,” senior forward Joey Yenne said. “The games have been really close the last three years. There’s no one else we’d like to beat more, outside of the Ivy League.”
A win against the Eagles won’t come easy. Boston College (7-5-1) enters the game ranked fourth in the Northeast NSCAA rankings, while Harvard (3-4-1, 1-0-1 Ivy) is unranked due to its losing record.
Naturally, the Crimson has no chance of winning if it does not put the ball in the net, something the team has struggled with the past few games. Harvard has scored only two goals in its last three games and five in its last six.
Strong defense and the play of freshmen goalies Katie Shields and Maja Agustsdottir have kept Harvard in many of these games, but the team’s lethargic offense has made it difficult to convert the defensive effort into wins.
“We haven’t been attacking totally as a team,” sophomore back Liza Barber said. “We’ve been working all week on that.”
Harvard’s defense may be tested by BC’s All-American midfielder Sarah Rahko. Last year’s Big East Midfielder of the Year, Rahko enters today’s game with two goals and four assists, including a double overtime game-winner against Providence
Some Crimson players may have the inside scoop on Rahko. Both Barber and junior Caitlin Fisher played with Rahko on the Boston Renegades’ W-League team this past summer. Together they won the league’s national championship.
“Rahko’s a real big threat on direct plays,” Barber said. “She has a really dangerous shot, so we’ll have to be careful.”
“She’s very technical, and a great distributor of the ball.” Fisher added.
The Crimson must also watch out for BC rookie forward Laina Ceddia. The Eagles’ leading scorer, Ceddia has seven goals and three assists thus far. A sophomore, Ceddia sat out all of last season after tearing her ACL, so the Crimson has yet to face her.
“We’ve heard that [Ceddia] is quick and tough,” Barber said. “But that’s all we really know.”
Harvard does have recent history on its side. The Crimson has not lost to BC in the regular season in the last ten years, registering nine wins and one tie. BC did pull off a victory when it mattered most, defeating a heavily-favored Crimson team 1-0 in the 1999 NCAA tournament.
Also in Harvard’s favor will be its home-field advantage. The Eagles have lost all four games they’ve played on the road this year.
The game has major postseason ramifications. A loss would drop Harvard to 2-5 in nonconference play and severely damage the team’s chances of earning an NCAA berth without the Ivy automatic bid.
“This game is huge,” Fisher said. “This is the turning point.”