Under the cold pound of autumn rain, the Crimson defied the odds, eking out a 1-0 victory over the visiting No. 14 Terriers of Boston University.
The match raised Harvard’s record to 3-0, while delivering the Terriers their first loss of the season and dropping them to 2-1-1.
But the matchup of cross-town rivals marked more than just an upset win.
Harvard’s triumph over the Terriers also served as a measure of retribution against a team that had beaten the Crimson 5-1 in their last meeting.
The 2009 edition of the two teams’ showdown was hardly the offensive battle it was a year ago. With a lone goal propelling Harvard to victory, the match was largely a war of attrition.
A strong defensive effort by the Crimson’s back line ultimately gave Harvard the edge. Senior Kwaku Nyamekye, juniors Rob Millock and Jaren LaGreca, and sophomore Baba Omosegbon combined with sophomore goalie Austin Harms to shut down BU and bring home the win for the Crimson.
“We were very solid on defense,” senior co-captain Andre Akpan said. “We gave [the Terriers] a couple of chances but nothing too serious—our back line was fantastic.”
While BU out-shot Harvard 19-16, the Crimson defenders blocked eight attempts and Harms registered three saves. The Terriers’ defense, in contrast, only stopped two of Harvard’s shots.
Offensively, the Crimson started out strong and largely controlled the ball in BU territory for the first half of the game. Despite pletny of opportunities on goal—such as a shot from senior Desmond Mitchell that went just wide and an Akpan header over the net—both teams remained scoreless as the clock wound down to halftime.
Things began to heat up for Harvard in the 36th minute of play when two successive corner kicks finally helped the Crimson find the Terriers’ net. Senior Adam Rousmaniere drilled a corner to classmate Kwaku Nyamekye, whose shot was redirected out of bounds by BU goalkeeper Hrafn Davidsson.
The next corner kick found sophomore Brian Rogers, who also battled Davidsson in front of the net. Harvard peppered the Terrier goal, but a deflected ball found sophomore Jamie Rees, who in turn found the back of the net, ending the stalmate.
“It was a really gutsy effort,” said senior midfielder and co-captain Brian Grimm. “We battled, and once we got that one goal we were able to play as a unit and not let them score.”
Going into the second half, Harvard’s one-goal advantage hardly guaranteed a victory for the Crimson. The Terriers rallied a strong offensive effort, reversing the possessions of the first half and keeping the ball almost solely on the Harvard side.
“In a 1-0 game, it’s going to be hard, and you’re going to have to grind out victories,” Akpan said. “You get tired towards the second half, and you grind it out, and that’s what we did.”
In the end, Harvard was able to counter the Terriers’ 16-shot second half, and came away with key non-conference victory early in the season.
But for Grimm, this matchup was no more important than any other the Crimson has played.
“Winning is always important, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is,” Grimm said.
“Beating [BU] will give us some national recognition, but really it’s about winning every single game.”
—Staff writer Alexandra J. Mihalek can be reached at email@example.com.