While the Harvard men’s soccer team saw a lot of red and yellow from the referees on Saturday, it could not quite get the win and give itself a green light for the Ivy Championship.
In a rough, overtime affair, the Crimson (9-6-1, 3-2-1) ended up tying Columbia (3-10-3, 1-4-1), 1-1.
Over the course of the game the referees ended up handing out three yellow cards and one red card to Columbia and one of each to Harvard.
Both reds were handed out in the same play, when sophomore forward Scott Waddell knocked senior defender Sam Wiggin to the ground. During the ensuing melee and attempt by the referees to discuss what occurred, junior midfielder Brian Charnock was also sent off for excessive arguing with the officials.
The fighting started earlier when Wiggin and Waddell had been talking to one another on a corner kick. When the ball went up, Waddell ran by and hit Wiggin in the back, sending the Crimson defender to the ground.
Despite the penalty-filled overtime, the Crimson had many opportunities to put away the game.
Harvard scored first in the 19th minute of play when junior defender and captain Will Craig scored off a free kick taken by junior midfielder Jeff Chivers, who was credited with the assist. Chivers kicked the ball into a clump of players who were sitting in the box, and Craig, who was late coming in for the kick, found the ball bounce out of the pile and towards him. Craig took the shot from 12 yards out putting it into the right side of the net.
“It happened to squirm through,” Craig said.
The goal was the first for Craig this season, and he appeared very excited as he screamed and ran into a pile of his teammates following the score.
“[Craig] scored a great goal today,” Kerr said. “But it just wasn’t enough.”
The Crimson relinquished the advantage they had by scoring the first goal only minutes later when the Lions came back to tie the score in 30th minute of play.
Columbia midfielder John Mulhern collected the goal after his shot from outside the box hit the crossbar and bounced straight down, just over the goal line.
In the second half, the Crimson never really got its offense together, posting only three shots on net.
Its defense, however, stepped up its play to keep the game knotted, particularly in the last minute when Craig tackled a Columbia player on a breakaway to save the game from ending in a Lion win.
“[Craig] has been playing really well the past few games when it has really counted,” Kerr said. “He is a great captain, [and] he’s had a great year.”
In overtime, Harvard really stepped up its pressure on Columbia by posting five shots on goal and keeping the Lions from getting even one opportunity against junior goalie Ryan Johnson.
The Crimson just never converted on its shots, blowing a number of close chances by missing the goal with its shots.
Freshman midfielder Michael Fucito had a great chance in the last minute of overtime when he found himself going 1-on-1 with the Lion’s goalie, but his shot went high and left to end all chances of a Crimson win.
During overtime, Harvard moved to having three forwards in order to increase the pressure on the Lions because the team understood the significance of this matchup in the Ivy League picture.
After its loss to Dartmouth last week Harvard had dropped to third in the Ivy rankings, and with its tie against Columbia this Saturday the squad drops to fourth.
“Our chances for the Ivy Championship are over,” Craig said. “[It] is tough, especially since we started out so strong.”
“Not that [the team] didn’t try hard,” Kerr said. “They tried very hard, but they just didn’t execute, and we paid the ultimate price.”
The outcome was made that much more painful by the fact that it was senior day at Ohiri field with the seniors playing in their last home game.
Nevertheless, the Crimson is still holding its head high going into the last game of the season against Penn in Philadelphia next Saturday.
“We will look to come and be strong next weekend,” Craig said. “And we’ll come back ready for next year, too.”