The Crimson (9-3-4, 4-1-1 Ivy) will host the Lions (11-3-2, 4-1-1Ivy) at Ohiri field at 11 am, while Penn (8-5-3, 2-2-2 Ivy) will host the Tigers (11-2-2, 4-1-1 Ivy) at 4 pm.
Each of the three teams vying for the title will find itself in a precarious position on Saturday. If Harvard wins its match against Columbia, the champion is decided; however, if the game does not go according to plan, things could get complicated.
The number of draws in Ivy League women’s soccer has led to this rare three-way tie.
“The league is so competitive, and you’re seeing a lot of ties. Columbia, Princeton, Penn, almost everyone has tied at least one game,” said Head Coach Ray Leone.
The Crimson would have won the championship had it won its prior match against Dartmouth last Saturday, but the Crimson could only draw the Big Green 1-1 in a fierce contest that went into two overtimes.
“Obviously we would have liked to get the win, but we are in a good position to win the league,” said co-captain Nikki Rhodes.
A victory secures the title, but the Crimson still could pull off the championships with a tie. With a Princeton draw against Penn, Harvard wins the Ivy title.
The records of Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton against each other will have determined this tiebreaker outcome.
With two ties this weekend, Harvard will have a 1-0-1 record, Columbia will have a 0-1-1 record, and Princeton will have a 1-1-0 record in their head-to-head-to-head matchups.
Despite this slight advantage of the Crimson over its opponents, Leone says that he is not interested in trying to analyze the different possibilities and outcomes.
“We are going to treat the Columbia game as a championship game,” Leone said. “Princeton is playing later, and we can’t play for the tie.
“We’re going for the win and Columbia is our only focus,” he added.
If Harvard pulls off a victory against Columbia on Saturday and wins the championship, it would be the team’s first Ivy League championship since 1999.
As the Ivy League champion and title-holder, Harvard would earn a spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time since its 2004 season.
First though, the Crimson must deal with the Lions. Columbia has dominated this season, while Harvard struggled near the start of the year, beginning its campaign with two losses. The teams are similar in their aggressive styles of play, pressuring their opponents on defense while quickly seizing on goal scoring opportunities up top.
“We both are very aggressive attack oriented teams. It’s wide open for both teams. Columbia’s season has been incredible,” Leone said. “The game is going to be a battle from the beginning to the end.”
Leone is confident in his team’s abilities and says that if the Crimson is able to play their game, it will pull out the win.
“We are going to have to play our game and not let them play theirs. When you are playing such a big game, you need to,” Leone said. “The winner for the game will be the Champion of the Ivy League and will go on to represent the League in the NCAA tournament.
“We’re going to make sure that with our level of play, that’s us.”