W. Soccer Rides Offense to Victory

Three goals in final 25 minutes lift Harvard over Cornell, 4-1

Emma M. Millon

Sophomore Brittany Meeks scored her first collegiate goal in Harvard’s 4-1 win over Cornell on Saturday.

When the Harvard women’s soccer team hosted Cornell on Saturday, it ultimately proved to be a game of firsts.

The Crimson (4-4-2, 2-1-0 Ivy) was on the winning end of a 4-1 decision over the Big Red (4-4-1, 1-2-0) at Ohiri Field, which represented the first time that Harvard has reached the four-goal plateau this season. In addition, it is the first time that the Crimson has won a game in which its defense did not post a shutout.

Want a few more “firsts”? The game also featured the first career collegiate goals for sophomore midfielder Brittany Meeks and freshman back Danielle Mirabel.

Though memorable, however, neither Meeks’ nor Mirabel’s goal proved to be the game-winner. That honor belonged to sophomore midfielder Katie Johnston.

After heading into halftime with the score knotted at 1, Johnston gave Harvard the boost that it needed when she took a pass from captain midfielder Falyne Chave and lofted the ball over the outstretched Cornell goalie from outside the box in the 65th minute.

Earlier, senior forward Alisha Moran displayed her uncanny nose for the ball when she collected the rebound of her initial shot from a group of players and slid the ball into the goal to erase an early Big Red lead.

“After they scored the first goal, we knew we needed to pick it up,” Chave said. “It was a wake-up call.”

Heading into the final 10 minutes of action, the outcome of the game was still up in the air. Trailing by a single goal, the Cornell offense pressed the issue in an effort to score the equalizer.

Enter the Crimson’s bench.

In the 85th minute, Meeks—who came in as a substitute when sophomore midfielder Becky Junkermeier injured her leg early in the game—sent a long ball in on goal.

When the Big Red goalkeeper had difficulty corralling the pass, Mirabel—who saw extended action in part because junior midfielder Maile Tavepholjalern is still nursing an ankle injury—pounced on the loose ball and deposited it into the open net.

“[Our bench play] was wonderful,” said senior forward Emily Colvin. “I hope that we learn from that. Having such a small team, we need to know that our bench is as deep as it can possibly be, and I think that we know that now.”

Just for good measure, Meeks was on the receiving end of an assist with just seconds remaining in the game. Freshman back Michelle Hull sent a pass through the Cornell defense to Meeks, who poked it past the charging goalkeeper.

The successful through-ball from Hull to Meeks was one of many such passes attempted by Harvard on the day, as the Crimson had numerous other chances that were foiled by offsides penalties and stellar defensive plays.

“Their defense played a flat back and we have a lot of speed [in front],” noted Colvin.

With the goal by Meeks, Harvard set a new season-high for goals in a game with four, besting its previous high of three that it scored against New Hampshire on September 19th.

“Having four goals means a lot for our confidence, [especially] having the goals all come from different places,” said Colvin. “It’s like opening the door and letting the water flow.”

Thanks to the victory over the Big Red, the Crimson keeps its hopes for an Ivy League title alive. With a 2-1 record within the conference, Harvard trails only undefeated Princeton and Penn.

The Crimson will visit the Tigers on October 23rd, while Harvard will need some assistance in order to catch the Quakers, who defeated the Crimson 1-0 two weeks ago.

“Basically, every game is a must-win,” said Chave. “We’re definitely in the thick of things.”

Any pressure?

“We think of it more as an opportunity rather than a negative thing,” said Chave. “It’s a chance to show the Ivy League what we’re made of.”

—Staff writer Jonathan P. Hay can be reached at hay@fas.harvard.edu.