Another strong second-half performance was not enough for the Harvard women’s soccer team.
The Crimson (8-4-1, 1-2-0 Ivy), which this season has made a habit of improving as the game goes on, fell, 1-0, to Brown (3-7-1, 1-2-0) Saturday afternoon at Ohiri Field.
After a below-par first half, Harvard dominated play but was unable to break through despite tallying 16 shots after halftime.
It was the first time this season that the Crimson was held scoreless.
The only goal of the game came just 30 seconds into the second half. A save from sophomore goalie Lauren Mann led to a scramble in the box. After bouncing around for a few seconds and deflecting off many players, the ball found its way to the Bears’ Jamie Mize, who knocked the ball into the Harvard net.
“We didn’t play our best soccer,” freshman forward Katherine Sheeleigh said. “The first half was pretty rough, but [in the] second half, we gave a lot more and had a lot more chances. But we just couldn’t get it done.”
Coach Ray Leone described his team’s performance, particularly in the first half, as “disappointing.”
Twice in the first 45 minutes, Mann was forced to tip the ball over the bar. Those two saves were the most exciting moments of a rather uneventful first period of play.
As in many other games this season, the Crimson displayed much more urgency after the break. In his second-half formation, Leone went with an extra striker to apply more pressure on the Brown defenders and give them less time on the ball at the back.
Harvard created a flurry of chances during a particularly fast-paced five-minute spell, which came about 10 minutes into the second half. Juniors Erin Wylie and Rachael Lau each had a shot go just wide, exciting the Crimson faithful gathered at Ohiri Field.
The Harvard attacking frenzy led to an outstanding save from Bears keeper Steffi Yellin. Sophomore midfielder Christina Hagner struck the ball from 20 yards out, and a huge deflection almost looped the ball over the head of Yellin. Mirroring Mann’s two similar saves in the first half, Yellin was able to punch the ball over the crossbar, keeping the Crimson searching for a goal.
During the course of the match, Harvard outshot Brown, 24-8. And at times, the Crimson’s passing was beautiful to watch.
Freshman forward Gina Wideroff’s nifty footwork in the midfield included a few tricky flicks that almost found their way through the Bears’ back four. Powerful runs through the middle from Hagner in midfield and Sheeleigh up front and good work from freshman Kerry Kartsonis on the wing all threatened to unlock the Brown defense as well.
In the end, though, Harvard was unable to make up for its somewhat lackluster first 45 minutes.
However, Leone made a promise regarding the team’s tendency to start slow.
“Now we’ve got one game a week, so really, we’ll have all of our energy,” he said. “We’ll be ready in the first half from here on out.”
Harvard will look for that fast start next Saturday when it faces Princeton at noon at Ohiri Field.
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the above article "Extra-Time Winner Bolsters Ivy Rivals" incorrectly implied that Brown scored the winning goal in extra time. As the article correctly stated, the winning goal was in fact scored in regulation.