Harvard travels to UConn tonight to match up against a defense that has recorded nine shutouts this season. The Crimson will then host No. 19 Brown on Saturday in a decisive Ivy League battle. The week’s games will test a Harvard team that has recently hit a couple of speed bumps. The squad barely emerged with a win against Yale and had to settle for a tie at Cornell.
Today marks the start of a pivotal few days for the Harvard men’s soccer team. After a dominant 6-0 start to the season, the Crimson squad has had a reality check following a loss to No. 3 Wake Forest on September 26 and 1-1 draw with unranked Cornell this past Saturday. This afternoon, the Crimson faces a tough matchup against the University of Connecticut (6-2-4), before hosting No. 19 Brown (6-0-4, 2-0 Ivy) on Saturday.
“After a very strong start to the season, we’ve hit a few speed bumps,” co-captain Brian Grimm said. “This week gives us the chance to get going in the right direction.”
“We’ve had a couple games where we’ve played very well, but have just not managed to score,” Harvard coach Jamie Clark said. “We’re creating chances and doing all the right things now, but we’re just not scoring the goals we were able to earlier in the season.”
This week will offer the Crimson an opportunity to revamp its performance. But it will be no easy feat with the high level of play expected from its two opponents.
“Our two games this week will probably be the most difficult of the year,” Clark explained. “The University of Connecticut has played its last five games without giving up a goal, and has just really found its form.”
Brown has been equally impressive of late, starting the conference season 2-0. Sophomore forward Sean Rosa was recently named Ivy League Player of the Week after its victory against Princeton.
But the Harvard players are not intimidated.
“We’re all really excited to get back on the field and play against some of the top programs in the country,” freshman Brian Rogers said.
First up for the Crimson is a trip to the University of Connecticut tonight.
“The University of Connecticut is probably the most fun place to play in the country,” Grimm said. “They have a great fan base and are always very competitive.”
“It’s always a great atmosphere to play in,” Clark agreed. “The University of Connecticut will have 4,000 fans, a sell-out crowd, so it’s very rare for them to lose a game at home.”
The Huskies, who currently sit atop the Big East division, have recently defeated big names such as Syracuse and Georgetown, and will look to extend their five-game unbeaten streak with a victory over Harvard.
The match will likely be a battle of defenses. Harvard’s back line, headed by sophomore goalkeeper Austin Harms, has allowed only four goals in ten games. Meanwhile, the University of Connecticut’s defense has had nine shutouts on the season.
Although the Crimson looks to bolster its confidence with a victory in Connecticut, the game versus Brown is all about rivalry, bitter and tested by time.
“Over the last decade, Brown has become one of, if not the best team in the Ivy league and probably our biggest rival,” Clark said. “In the last few years, neither of us has been able to win at home. After our 4-1 victory last year, Brown will be looking to reverse the trend.”