With an Ivy title on the line, Harvard men’s soccer found its answer in an unlikely place. Rookie Richard Smith dumped a pass into the back of the net to give the Crimson the 1-0 victory over Penn.
Revenge is sweet.
It’s even sweeter when it comes with a trophy.
In a game that was postponed for 24 hours due to Saturday’s heavy rain, the Harvard men’s soccer team clinched the Ivy League title yesterday, defeating Penn, 1-0, on Ohiri Field.
A year ago, the Quakers were the ones celebrating in the final conference game of the year. On that day, the Crimson dominated the match but gave up a soft overtime goal to hand the championship to Penn.
While the Quakers may have been out of the running for the crown this year, the game didn’t mean any less to Harvard. Win, and the Crimson was guaranteed sole possession of the title. Anything else wouldn’t cut it.
Adding to the excitement surrounding the match was the fact that it came on Senior Day—a chance for the Crimson to celebrate what might be the greatest recruiting class in the history of Harvard soccer.
But in the biggest game of the season, an unlikely pair of underclassmen came up with the heroics.
With the score knotted at zero in the 68th minute, sophomore Tim Linden—who had entered the game just two minutes earlier—found himself with space on the left. Linden curled in a cross towards the back post that flew over the heads of the Penn back line.
The ball fell to freshman defender Richard Smith—still in the box from a corner a few seconds earlier—who directed his first-time shot towards the right side of the goal. Despite getting his hands on it, Quakers’ freshman keeper Garon Smith was unable to stop the ball from trickling into the net.
It was Richard Smith’s first goal of his Crimson career, and it couldn’t have come on a bigger stage.
“He was just there at the right time, and sort of stuck his foot out,” co-captain Andre Akpan said.
Smith has combined with senior Kwaku Nyamekye in the center of Harvard’s defense, helping to anchor a unit that has been one of the nation’s best this season.
The two massive defenders made their work look very easy in a first half in which the Crimson dictated the play.
The field was still soaked from the previous day’s downpour, but that didn’t stop Harvard from creating chances right from the start.
In the ninth minute, a long cross from sophomore defender Baba Omosegbon found senior midfielder Desmond Mitchell at the back post.