For 89 minutes and 48 seconds on Saturday afternoon, the Harvard women’s soccer team (11-4-1, 5-0-1 Ivy) battled driving rain and an aggressive Dartmouth squad (3-12, 1-5) to a 1-1 tie.
With the game almost certainly heading into overtime, sophomore Peyton Johnson had other plans. Driving the ball over a Big Green wall and just under the crossbar, the midfielder converted a 28-yard free kick to put the team ahead with only 12 seconds remaining. Johnson’s free kick capped off a memorable final home game at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium for the class of 2012.
A scoreless affair between Penn and Brown later in the day guaranteed the Crimson at least a share of its 10th Ivy League title.
“[The seniors] have done so much for us—for this program,” Johnson said. “To get a win for them in their final home game was really awesome. They deserved it. [Saturday] was definitely for them.”
For a while, it appeared that the seniors’ final trot off of the pitch wouldn’t be so triumphant.
After extended pregame ceremonies in windy conditions, the Big Green flew out of the gate, almost connecting on a cross into the box in the sixth minute and then tallying the game’s first goal in the 10th minute.
Aurelia Solomon took a well-aimed shot from 25 yards away that found a hole in the top left corner of Harvard’s net.
But the Crimson showed its resiliency once again.
“Kind of unfortunately, we’ve been in that spot a bunch of times,” co-captain Melanie Baskind said. “It’s the third time in the Ivy League that we’ve found ourselves down in a hole. I don’t think we freaked out at all.”
After Dartmouth was unable to capitalize on a couple more opportunities, the momentum slowly shifted, as the ball spent more and more time in the Big Green’s end.
With the temperature dropping and the rain picking up, Harvard began dominating play and a goal seemed imminent.
Coming into the game with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half, freshman Erika Garcia was prepared to make the requisite play.
Controlling the ball on the left side of Dartmouth’s penalty box, the rookie sent a cross across middle to Baskind, who put the ball in the back of the net to level the score with under two minutes to go before halftime.
On the day, the Crimson fired 14 shots compared to the Big Green’s 12, but five of Dartmouth’s attempts were on target as opposed to Harvard’s three.
With a stiff wind at their back, the Crimson women continued to thrive on the momentum they had gained before going into the locker room.