The Harvard men’s soccer team returned from a difficult road trip down Tobacco Road knowing that it can hold its own with some of the best teams in the country.
The Crimson (3-2-2) defeated Duke 3-2 on Friday, but failed to upset No. 8 North Carolina, falling 1-0 on Sunday.
Harvard 3, Duke 2
Friday night, the Crimson took on the Blue Devils (2-6-1) in a homecoming for Harvard head coach John Kerr, who led Duke to its first national championship and was named the national player of the year as a Blue Devil in 1986.
Harvard showed no mercy for its coach’s alma mater, striking early when sophomore Brian Charnock headed in a cross from classmate Nick Tornaritis 9:33 into the game. The goal was Charnock’s second of both the week and the season.
Just six-and-a-half minutes later, freshman forward Matt Hoff followed his teammates’ lead by poking a loose ball past Duke goalie Justin Trowbridge.
“We really looked like a better team out there,” sophomore goalie Ryan Johnson said. “Especially in the first half, we were working off each other really well.”
The Blue Devils got back into the game ten minutes later when Owoicho Adogwa headed in a well-played free kick, narrowing the score to 2-1.
Sophomore Anthony Tornaritis added the Crimson’s third goal midway through the second half off a feed from Charnock.
Adogwa, struggling desperately to get his team back in the game, notched his second goal of the night in the 83rd minute.
But Harvard would yield no further, holding on for a 3-2 victory.
“The defense did a really good job in the final 20 minutes,” Johnson said. “Overall, we outplayed them the whole game, outclassed them on the field.”
“We played very well,” senior midfielder Kevin Ara added. “We put them under lots of pressure and completely dominated them.”
UNC 1, Harvard 0
Having scored six goals in its previous two games, the Crimson offense looked ready to challenge the talented Tar Heels (7-1-1) and their three members of the U.S. Under-17 National Team on Sunday.
But Harvard struggled to generate any offense at all against North Carolina. The Tar Heels didn’t allow Harvard a single shot on goal, giving goalie Ford Williams a shutout without forcing him to make a save.
“It might look bad on paper, but we had a game plan, and we stuck to it,” Ara said. “We had a couple of chances. We deserved better than what we got.”
In the Harvard goal, Johnson was forced to work hard to deny numerous North Carolina shots. He was finally beaten in the 76th minute on a header by Jamie Watson.
“We had a different strategy against North Carolina,” Johnson said. “We were planning to counterattack a lot. They played well, and didn’t try to force anything on us.”
The Crimson returns to action on Saturday when it travels to New Haven, Conn. to play Yale in both teams’ Ivy League opener.