Crimson Drops Close Contest for First Loss in Ivies

Injuries hamper offense, but Harvard remains in control of Ivy League race

SAGER-MEISTER
Alexandra P. Kass

Co-captain Luke Sager had one of the Crimson’s few good scoring opportunities Saturday with a header saved by Sean Milligan.

As fall slowly begins its final transformation into a seemingly endless winter, November ushers in the winds of change, visibly altering the Cambridge scene.

However, these changing November winds were present in more than the color of the leaves and constantly decreasing temperatures, as the No. 17 Harvard men’s soccer team abruptly ended its six-game winning streak this past Saturday evening in Hanover, N.H.

The Crimson’s 1-0 loss to Dartmouth (8-5-1, 3-1-1 Ivy) marked its first in Ivy League play, dropping its record in the Ancient Eight to 4-1 (9-4 overall). The defeat was also the first with up-and-coming freshman goalkeeper Austin Harms in net. The rookie has held the position throughout the course of the team’s winning streak.

Harvard, which holds a 26-14 goal advantage over its opponents, also remained scoreless for the first time since early September.

“I don’t think it was our best game,” co-captain Mike Fucito said. “As the game went on we got better and better, but we just couldn’t put it in the net.”

Dartmouth sealed its victory with a goal by freshman Maarten van Ess in the 77th minute. Van Ess found the back of the net with a rebounded ball over the head of Harvard’s Harms, capitalizing on an assist from Big Green senior Craig Henderson.

Henderson, who was also crucial in Dartmouth’s 1-0 defeat of the Crimson last year, tallying the lone goal of the matchup, was one of the driving forces in the Big Green’s victory.

“[Dartmouth] definitely played the best out of all the teams in the Ivy League,” co-captain Luke Sager said. “They have a bunch of good players, but they have this one kid, Craig Henderson—Henderson really killed us yesterday.”

With or without the formidable force of Dartmouth’s Henderson, Harvard was at a disadvantage, losing two of its most dominant offensive threats early in the game. Fucito, who leads the Crimson in points, goals scored, game-winning goals, and shots, was injured in the first two minutes of play, keeping him on the sidelines for the rest of the match.

Harvard senior John Stamatis also suffered an injury later in the game, removing the Crimson’s leader in assists and third-highest goal scorer from the field.

“Fucito and Stamatis are two of our best offensive players,” Sager said. “To improve, we need them to get healthy.”

The unfortunate reduction of Harvard’s offensive attack, coupled with the inhospitable weather, provided a hurdle too great for the Crimson to overcome. Yet according to Fucito, on a different night the results of the game could have been very different.

“If we were firing on all cylinders it would have been a different game,” Fucito said. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, and they were the better team last night.”

Even with this setback at the hands of the Big Green, Harvard still retains the top spot in the Ivy League standings, tied for first with No. 23 Penn.

With only two games remaining in league play, the magnitude of the next two matches is daunting—to guarantee an Ivy League title, Harvard must beat Columbia this coming Saturday and also defeat its current crown contenders from Penn in the following, and final, week of the regular season.

This pressure-filled situation may seem intimidating, but it keeps the fate of the Ivy League in the Crimson’s hands.

“Even though we did lose yesterday, we still control our own destiny,” Sager said. “Everyone on the team knows what we need to do to win, so hopefully we can get our guys healthy and get the job done.”

—Staff writer Alexandra J. Mihalek can be reached at amihalek@fas.harvard.edu.

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