The No. 9 Harvard men’s soccer team earned its second consecutive win Wednesday afternoon by aptly applying the idiom, “better late than never,” to its performance at Providence University.
Seniors Desmond Mitchell and Andre Akpan scored two late goals to pull out a 2-1 victory for the Crimson, who improved to 10-2-1 (2-0-1 Ivy) on the season. After defeating Brown 1-0 at home on Saturday, the team picked up another win against a Rhode Island team by knocking off the Friars, who fell to 5-6-3 (2-4-2 Big East) on the year.
Whereas Harvard scored early in the second half against Brown and never looked back, the squad had to wait until the final minutes of yesterday’s game to pull ahead.
The match was scoreless until the 88-minute mark of the second half, when Mitchell scored his third goal of the season from seven yards out.
Mitchell, who only played 49 minutes total, had entered the game just three minutes before his goal.
“Adam Rousmaniere took the ball down the line and had a great cross in. I was able to get across my defender and hit it into the goal,” Mitchell said.
But the Friars struck right back with a goal on a redirection by midfielder Marc Cintron with just 27 seconds remaining in regulation.
For Cintron, a freshman, it was his first career goal. He scored it after sophomore John Raley drove the ball into the 18-yard box. Cintron found the pass and redirected the ball from five yards out past Crimson sophomore goalie Austin Harms.
Just thirteen seconds later, Harvard was awarded a penalty kick after the Friars were whistled for a foul inside the box. The Crimson turned to its star, reigning Ivy League Player of the Week, Akpan, who placed the ball into the low right corner of the net past diving Providence goalie Timothy Murray to seal the victory.
Akpan’s goal, which came with just 14 seconds remaining, was his team-best ninth of the year.
Compared to the back-and-forth exciting final moments, the rest of the game was more cat-and-mouse, with great goaltending and defense on both sides.
“I think we were playing great offensively, we just weren’t making that final pass,” Mitchell explained. “Our buildup was great, we just weren’t able to complete the play.”
His coach felt the same way.
“One thing that let us down early was we got into wide areas, but didn’t deliver balls that we could score off of,” Harvard coach Jamie Clark said.
The Friars held a 6-4 edge in shots in the first half, but were unable to score against Harms, who has rebounded nicely by giving up just one goal in two games after giving up four at Connecticut last week.