Women's Keeper Aims for Shutout Record

With nine shutouts, Mann just two shy of assistant coach's mark

Hillary W. Berkowitz

After an outstanding freshman campaign that saw her take home Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors, Crimson goalkeeper Lauren Mann is impressing even more this season for a resurgent Harvard squad. With nine shutouts and two games left to play, the sopho

Lauren Mann of the Harvard women’s soccer team has already tripled her number of shutouts from last year.

The Crimson’s 1-0 win over Dartmouth last Saturday was the ninth time that the sophomore goalkeeper and her defense have kept the Crimson opponent scoreless.

And with two games left, Mann is just two clean sheets shy of tying the Crimson record for shutouts in a season, which is currently owned by none other than her current mentor.

In 2005, Katie Shields '06, now assistant coach for the team, put together 11 shutouts for Harvard.

But regarding her hold on the record, Shields is focused purely on the end of the season.

“I want to win and I want Harvard soccer to win so the best thing for this team is that the record gets broken as soon as possible.”

That is not to say, however, that the two haven’t been joking about their current situation.

“We were winning and time was going down,” Mann recounts. “I kept nervously glancing over at the bench thinking that Shields might start warming up a keeper and take me out, and apparently on the bench they had been joking about how upset they thought I’d be if they took me out with like a minute to go.”

These two stars have minded the Crimson net for the past six years, as Mann took over in goal last year following Shields’s graduation in ‘06.

The teasing that occurs is indicative of the close relationship between the two—a relationship that actually began when Shields hosted Mann on her official recruiting visit.

At that time, though, Shields had never seen Mann play.

A few months later during the summer, she got the chance to see Mann in action, and Shields was certainly impressed.

“I called the other players on the team and said 'you’ll be just fine, this kid’s a stud.'”

The two could really not be more complimentary of each other.

Shields describes Mann as “one of the most athletic keepers in the country” and “a special, very unique player that you’d kill for in any program.”

And Mann has been equally impressed with Shields’s coaching.

“She is a very good resource to have both on and off the field.”

Of course, the two are now concentrating on winning the final games of the season and potentially gaining a spot in the NCAA tournament.

The team has had a great year so far, and each one of Mann’s shutouts has been vital to the team’s success. Seven of the nine shutouts have resulted in 1-0 Harvard wins.

In comparing this year’s team to that of 2005, Shields recognizes the effort of the entire squad.

“This is a much better team, top to bottom,” Shields says. “This defense is better.”

With a solid back line in front of Mann, not once all season has the Crimson conceded more than two goals, allowing just 10 in total.

And while the 2005 team also had a very impressive defensive record, the 2007 team is looking to have slightly more success.

Harvard has put together a 10-4-1 record and is 3-2 in the Ivy League.

While it is far from definite, if the team can win its final two games of the season, it will have a good shot at making the NCAA Championship, either as Ivy League champion or as an at-large selection.

The Crimson will play defending Ivy League champion Columbia in New York this weekend, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

And in the season finale Nov. 10, Harvard will take on thus-far undefeated Penn at Ohiri Field, where the Crimson has suffered only one loss this season.

Of course, this could give Mann some extra chances at the record. But if one thing is certain, it’s that her assistant coach will be cheering her on.