Yesterday was supposed to be the day Holy Cross finally got its revenge on the Harvard men’s soccer team.
Instead, Harvard rubbed it in.
Last season, the Crusaders were ranked No. 24 in the nation. But in one of the biggest upsets in recent Harvard history, the Cross fell 2-1 after scoring an own goal with just seven minutes remaining in regulation.
Yesterday, the Crimson (5-3-3, 0-1-1 Ivy) squashed a struggling Holy Cross squad 3-0, dropping the Crusaders to 1-8-1 on the season.
Senior midfielder Kevin Ara scored the game-winning goal only 15 minutes into the first half, dribbling by several defenders and beating Holy Cross net-minder Richard Wipple to the west side of the net. He later added an assist, and now stands second on the squad in points (eight) and goals (three).
Ara’s assist came on a goal by senior forward Ladd Fritz that may have been aided by the soccer gods. After collecting a cross from Ara, senior midfielder Andrew Netchem’s shot was blocked by Whipple. But the goalie failed to cover up, and Fritz found himself at the right place at the right time. A simple rebound gave him his second goal of the season.
The Crimson victory was made sweeter when junior midfielder Pablo Koe-Krompecher added the afternoon’s final score. Though the goal mattered little in the outcome of the game—Harvard was leading 2-0 with only 3:58 to play—the bench and Koe-Krompecher jumped up in ecstasy as the junior recorded his first ever collegiate tally.
“It was a beauty,” said captain and defender Andrew Old. “He took it real well, watching the ball come out of the sky and then hitting a volley into the side netting.”
Koe-Krompecher was one of several Crimson back-ups who were able to record some valuable minutes thanks to the generous lead and the Crusaders’ poor play this season.
Freshman Josh Lahre, sophomore Jeff Chivers and senior Michael Sachs all made their first appearances of the year, while junior Samuel Wiggin and seniors Ian Bridges and Grayson Sugarman each saw action for the second time this season.
The easy victory also gave Harvard some valuable time to rest some of their experienced players for Saturday’s pivotal match-up against No. 20 Brown (6-3-0, 2-0 Ivy). Sophomores Anthony Tornaritis and Brian Charnock, junior Zach Chandis and senior Jonathan Napper all rested their banged up bodies, while sophomore Nicholas Tornaritis and freshman (and current Ivy League Rookie of the Week) Matt Hoff saw limited playing time.
The Crimson need the rest, especially with freshman Charles Altchek having separated his shoulder in practice this past week.
Harvard also barely avoided catastrophe when Crusader forwards twice went crashing into sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Johnson, who had another magnificent day with a career high 10 saves for his third shutout of the season. The victory also lowers his goals against average to .88, tops in the Ivies, and extends his goalless streak to 155 minutes.
“I never like anyone running into him,” Old said. “But he seemed to come out on top of most of them [the collisions]. He’s a big guy [6’2”, 205 lbs.], so you better make sure you take care of yourself, because he’s going to make sure he takes care of himself.”
Though Johnson needed to make 10 saves on his own, the Crimson defense played well. Anchored by Old and sophomore Will Craig, Harvard’s ‘D’ held Holy Cross’ star freshman forward Josh Trott to only one shot. Trott most recently earned the Patriot League’s Rookie of the Week—his second in three weeks—for his heroic game winning goal against American on Saturday.
Still, Harvard was unimpressed.
“He wasn’t really that effective,” Koe-Krompecher said. “I mean, Hoff is 10 times the player he is.”
With the win, the Crimson extended its home unbeaten streak to five games, remaining undefeated at Ohiri Field this year.
Harvard looks to extend its streak when it hosts Brown this Saturday at 11 a.m.
—Staff writer Evan R. Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.