Defense Propels Women's Soccer Again

Last season, the Harvard women’s soccer team played 110 scoreless minutes against Boston University, settling for a 0-0 tie.

This time, the wait wasn’t quite so long.

Freshman forward Erin Wylie scored on a breakaway in just the 12th minute, and the Crimson (5-2-0) held on for a 1-0 victory over the Terriers (4-4-2) at Ohiri Field. It was the third straight victory for Harvard.

After the Crimson moved the ball quickly through the midfield, sophomore midfielder Megan Merritt launched a long pass to Wylie, who dribbled in and fired a low shot into the corner of the goal.

“Megan hit a through ball through the center of the backs,” said Wylie, who is tied for the team lead with two goals. “I ran onto it and it was just me and the goalie.”

While Harvard dominated play early, the pendulum swung towards BU as the game progressed, and the Terriers pressed the Crimson in search of the equalizer. BU outshot Harvard 10-6 for the game and 4-1 in the second half alone, when the Crimson was attacking into the afternoon sun.

“We just let down after our goal,” said Wylie. “We got satisfied with our lead.”

As Harvard struggled to mount an attack with the slim lead, the defense became harder and harder pressed to keep the Terriers under wraps. Fortunately for the Crimson, co-captain goalie Katie Shields and her backs—senior Sara Sedgwick, junior co-captain Laura Odorczyk, sophomore Michelle Hull and freshman Nicky Rhodes—were able to bend without breaking.

BU’s best chance to tie the game came with just over seven minutes remaining. A shot was blasted from outside the 18, and a diving Shields was able to get a fingertip on it. The ball deflected off the post and bounced in front of the vacated net, but Rhodes blasted the ball away from danger.Minutes earlier, the Terriers had another chance to tie the game when a loose ball was deflected in front of the goal, but freshman midfielder Rachael Lau was able to cleard the ball from the goal line.

For the game, Shields had four saves to post her fifth shutout of the season and the 12th of her career. Harvard had seven shutouts during the entire 2004 season.

“At the beginning of the season, we made goals for the first block of the season,” said Rhodes. “One of our goals was to get five shutouts, and we got that today.”

Amazingly, all five of the Crimson’s victories this season have been by 1-0 margins. With just five goals in seven games, Harvard has the lowest scoring average in the Ivy League, though the Crimson has the third best winning percentage.

“We’d like to be scoring more goals, but we’re happy with the results,” said Rhodes. “We’ve had the chances, we need to find that final burst to get a comfortable lead.”

Up next for Harvard is the start of Ivy League play, which will commence on Saturday at home against Penn. The Crimson finished with a 4-3 record in the Ivies last year, and scored an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We play 100 percent every game,” said Wylie. “We’re out here to go undefeated, which hopefully we can do.”

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

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