The Harvard men’s soccer team capped off its opening weekend emphatically yesterday, shutting out Boston College, 2-0, on the Eagles’ home turf in Newton, Mass. The non-conference win over the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Boston College (1-2-0) was the first for Harvard (2-0-0) since 2000.
“We played really well,” Crimson co-captain Akpan said. “It was a tough road game against an ACC team and I think our team had a solid overall performance.”
The Crimson entered the matchup following a decisive 4-1 victory over Stony Brook this past Friday, where Akpan set a new Harvard record in career points. But the Crimson was unable to rest on its laurels as it prepared to meet the Eagles, a member of one of the most competitive conferences in the country.
“We knew we were going to get a test of where we stand against the whole country,” Harvard coach Jamie Clark said. “It’s a very positive early indication of where we are.”
Although Boston College led the Crimson in shots on goal, gunning for the Harvard net 17 times while the Crimson rattled off 14 attempts, the visiting team’s defense was impenetrable. A decisive Crimson effort led by sophomore goalkeeper Austin Harms—who recorded two saves during the game—kept this strong Eagles attack at bay.
“The team played great for the majority of the game,” senior midfielder Desmond Mitchell said. “We controlled the ball for most of the game and we were able to contain Boston to very few chances, while we had a lot of chances ourselves.”
On the offensive side, the Crimson’s underclassmen took charge. Freshman Scott Prozeller and sophomore Jamie Rees registered both of the team’s goals, while Akpan assisted both efforts and freshman Brian Rogers added an assist to his résumé.
“The underclassmen that played did very well,” Mitchell said. “While we do have a lot of upperclassmen playing on the field, all the underclassmen playing are contributing a fair amount to the team as well.”
Prozeller started the scoring for Harvard, recording his first goal in crimson and white in the 21st minute of play. Prozeller found the net on Boston College fellow freshman Justin Luthy, shooting from five yards out on an Akpan assist.
The Crimson later increased its lead over the Eagles to 2-0 with only seconds left in the first half, when Rees scored his first goal of the season off of a cross and redirect from Akpan and Rogers at 44:16.
Both teams remained scoreless for the remainder of the game.
The last meeting of the two cross-town rivals occurred in 2001 and was also held at the Eagles’ Newton Campus Complex. But the outcome of that matchup was far better for the home team—then-unranked Boston College trumped the visiting No. 18 Crimson, 3-2.
This year, the Crimson emerged victorious on the strength of a balanced effort from its seasoned veterans and rising stars.
“The team’s been great—we really came together,” said Mitchell. “From the freshmen to the sophomores to the juniors to the seniors, we’re all working well together, and we’re all working together for one cause.”
—Staff writer Alexandra J. Mihalek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.