When a team has only seven league games, there is little margin for error. After dropping its first Ivy League match against Penn last Friday, the Harvard’s women’s soccer team finds itself in a do-or-die position. One more league loss could all but spell the end of the Crimson’s hopes for a third-straight Ivy League crown.
The fact that Harvard’s next league opponent is Yale makes it all the more dramatic.
“It’s more than just an Ivy League game,” said co-captain and midfielder Gina Wideroff. “It’s Harvard-Yale. We train so hard for this competition, for this kind of game. And on top of that…having lost to Penn, this is a really important game for us.”
The Crimson (3-4-1, 0-1-0 Ivy League) will face the Bulldogs (3-5-1, 0-1-0 Ivy League) on Friday at Ohiri Field. The match marks the 35th meeting between the two teams, with Harvard having won 26 times.
Like the Crimson, Yale finds itself in need of an Ivy League victory after dropping its first contest to Princeton, 1-0.
“It’s an Ivy League game that we both obviously desperately want to win,” Bulldogs coach Rudy Meredith said. “The magnitude that it’s [against] Harvard and the magnitude that it’s an Ivy League game this early in the year [after] we’ve both come off Ivy League losses—I think that ramps up the magnitude of the game a bit.”
Unlike his Yale counterpart, Harvard coach Ray Leone does not want to focus on the long-term ramifications of the Friday game.
“I think it’s a mistake for us to think that far ahead,” Leone said. “We just need to think about this game. I know everybody’s talking about it, and I don’t, and I want my team not to talk about it. It’s game number two.”
Game number one did not go the Crimson’s way. Harvard’s 4-3 loss to the University of Pennsylvania on Sept. 24 marked only its third Ivy League defeat in three years. The Crimson had two leads in the game, but in both instances the team could only hold the advantage for less than ten minutes. After Harvard grabbed a 1-0 advantage at the 12-minute mark, the Quakers answered with a goal of their own only 73 seconds later.
“We need to start the game off stronger and be more consistent throughout the entire game,” Wideroff said.
Down 3-2 at the half, the Crimson fought back scoring the equalizer in the 59th minute. Nevertheless, Penn’s goal 12 minutes later proved to be the deciding score.
“I don’t think we necessarily played that poorly,” junior forward Melanie Baskind said. “I think we were a little bit flat coming out.”
Harvard rebounded in its next contest against the University of Massachusetts Amherst that Sunday. Learning from its slow start against the Quakers, the team rattled off two goals in the first 15 minutes holding on against the Minutewomen to prevail by a score of 3-2.
In both games over the weekend, the Crimson had no trouble on the attack, as was especially the case for Baskind, who scored two of the team’s three goals against the Quakers and found the back of the net again versus the University of Massachusetts. For her play, she was named the Ivy League Player of the Week.
“[Baskind] was great,” Wideroff said. “She scored some great goals, and she’s really leading the attack up there, so it’s great that she’s on top of her game right now and she’s playing well with our other frontrunners and our midfielders.”