Junior ALISHA MORAN (14), shown here against BU on Tuesday, leads the Crimson with five goals, but couldn’t break through against Yale.
The Harvard women’s soccer team headed into its Ivy-League match against rival Yale without two of its four regular starters on defense, so one might expect that it would have had difficulty preventing the Bulldogs from scoring.
But it was the offense that let the Crimson (3-3-3, 1-0-1 Ivy) down as it played Yale (4-4-1, 0-1-1) to a scoreless tie through 90 minutes of regulation and two overtimes on Saturday.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” sophomore Sara Sedgwick said of Harvard’s inability to score. “We’re missing that X-factor.”
The Crimson played without the services of two of its regular defenders since co-captain left back Caitlin Fisher injured her ankle in Tuesday’s contest against Boston University, while senior Lauren Cozzolino missed the game with tightness in her calves stemming from her Compartment Syndrome.
According to Sedgwick, Fisher is improving much faster than the team anticipated and is already off crutches. Senior forward Alisa Sato added that Fisher is hoping to return in time for Saturday’s game against Cornell. Cozzolino also likely will return soon.
The two seniors were replaced in the starting lineup by junior Falyne Chave and freshman Laura Odorczyk.
“We were unhappy that Caitlin and Lauren couldn’t be with us, but we were confident in Falyne and Laura,” Sato said. “They played very solid.”
Chave and Odorczyk’s transition to the starting lineup was eased by the other starting backs—co-captain Katie Hodel and junior Liza Barber.
“Katie and Liza were back there to organize everything,” Sedgwick said. “It’s a huge testament to their leadership.”
Harvard outshot the Bulldogs 17-7—including 6-0 in the two overtimes—but the Crimson could not solve the puzzle that was Yale goaltender Sarah Walker, who stopped 11 shots on the day.
“[Walker] just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Sato said. “Maybe it’s our fault for not placing our shots better. She did have some good saves, though.”
The game marks the third time that the Crimson has been shut out this season. The team has struggled to find players that can score goals consistently.
“Last year, we had two main scorers in Joey [Yenne ’03] and Beth [Totman ’03],” Sedgwick said. “This year, we’re never really sure where that goal is going to come from.”
Yenne had six goals in 2002 to lead the team, while Totman added five tallies. Junior Alisha Moran is leading the team with five goals so far this season, but no one else has more than two.
Without the offensive firepower it has had in years past, Harvard has had to rely increasingly on sophomore goalkeeper Katie Shields. Shields, who made four saves to post her third shutout of the season, has allowed just four goals in 780 minutes of action this year and boasts a 0.46 goals against average.
One of the Crimson’s best chances to leave with a win came from senior midfielder Katie Westfall, who returned to the field after missing the BU game with a leg bruise. Westfall’s hard, low shot midway through the first overtime forced Walker to make a diving save to preserve the shutout.
Harvard returns to action on Wednesday, hosting New Hampshire in a non-conference matchup on Ohiri Field.
“These are the games that shouldn’t make [us] nervous, because they are games we should win,” Sedgwick said. “[However], one of our weaknesses is getting up for games that aren’t [No. 5] UVA, aren’t [perennial powerhouse] Stanford and aren’t Ivy League.”
After playing the Wildcats, the Crimson travels to Cornell to take on the Big Red on Saturday.
“Last year, it was losing or tying these games that hurt our chances at the Ivy League title,” Sedgwick said. “We need to go out and kill them right away. We should go 2-0 this week and I’m confident we will.”