But like so many other Crimson shots in the game, Hoff’s sailed just wide, and Crimson players were left shaking their heads after a 2-2 tie to Fairfield.
“This was a very disappointing tie,” senior midfielder Kevin Ara said. “We should have won this game. We had so many chances.”
Less then a minute before Hoff’s final shot misfired, the Crimson (1-0-2) had again just missed winning the game. Hoff dribbled the ball down the left side and passed it to sophomore midfielder Brian Charnook at the top of the 18. Charnook struck a low hard shot that blew past the diving Fairfield goalie before clanging emphatically off the left post.
The tie was even more dissapointing for the Crimson because the team could have easily won in regulation. Harvard held a one goal lead before the Stags struck to knot the game at two with just under six minutes remaining. Fairfield forward Mike Troy recieved the ball standing at the edge of the box with his back to the goal. Troy turned and buried his shot in the lower left hand corner, forcing the game into overtime.
The first and second overtimes were played at a frenetic pace, as both Harvard and the Stags had a number of shots on goal in their desperate attempts to pull out a victory. Neither team was able to convert.
With both teams scoreless in the first half, Fairfield (1-2-1) began the second with a bang. Junior Dave Thomas lifted one into the upper right hand corner less then ten seconds after kickoff, before any Harvard player had even touched the ball.
Trailing 1-0, the Crimson woke up and responded quickly. Seven minutes after the Stags’ tally, Harvard evened the score at 1-1 when freshman forward Charles Alcheck broke through the defense and struck a laser past the dive of Fairfield goalie Andrew Frankel. The Crimson tacked on its second goal with less then 30 minutes remaining in regulation when Ara headed in a low shot crossed by sophomore forward Anthony Tornaritis.
“Coach has been talking about following through,” Ara said. “The ball got through everyone and I just happened to be in the right place to put it in.”
That Harvard let up only two goals in 110 minutes of play is surprising given the physical state of its goalkeepers. Junior Conrad Jones, despite having hurt his back Saturday at URI, got the start because he was the least injured of Harvard’s three goalies. But Jones had to leave early in the first half when he went to the ground hard and aggravated his injury.
“I really messed [my back] up today,” Jones said. “On the first play of the game, a guy just came and slid into me. I hit the ground, and that was all it took.”
With Jones out, it was up to sophomore Ryan Johnson to mind the net. Johnson, however, is nursing both a separated shoulder and a strained calf.
“We needed a goalie in there,” Johnson said. “As long as I don’t fall on [my shoulder], I’m all right.”
Given the nature of his injuries, Johnson delivered an impressive performance. He made a number of remarkable saves, including a couple of stops in overtime that prevented an already disappointing tie from becoming a heartbreaking loss.
Harvard next plays at Hartford on Friday at 7 p.m. The Crimson hope at least one goalie will be healthy enough to take the field.