Last-Place Crimson Stymied in Search of First Ivy Victory

CON MAN
Steven A Soto

Shown here in previous action, sophomore forward Connor McCarthy scored in the 55th minute—his second goal in two games—on Saturday afternoon at Columbia, but Harvard could not find the net another time, falling to the Lions, 2-1, in the Crimson’s penultimate matchup of the season.

After failing to find victory in its last 12 outings, the Harvard men’s soccer team travelled to New York City this weekend in hopes of picking up its first Ivy win.

But attempt No. 13 proved to be as fruitless as the previous 12, as the Crimson (2-11-3, 0-5-1 Ivy) fell on the road at Columbia (8-7-1, 4-2 Ivy) on Saturday night, 2-1.

Though sophomore forward Connor McCarthy notched a goal for the second straight game, the pair of goals scored by Columbia’s Ronnie Shaban proved to be insurmountable for Harvard.

“It’s tough to lose,” McCarthy said. “We definitely didn’t play well in the first half, but our performance in the second half was good.”

Playing at Columbia University Soccer Stadium in Manhattan, N.Y., the Lions came out strong offensively, immediately placing pressure on the away side’s back line. Within the first few minutes of the match, Crimson senior goalkeeper Austin Harms was tested by Columbia’s offense. And in the 16th minute, the Lions’ relentless pressure caused the Crimson back line to crack.

At 15:34, Columbia midfielder David Najem fired a shot on goal that rebounded off the goal post and into play. As the Harvard defense attempted to clear the loose ball out of its penalty area, a Lions attacker went down in the process, leading to a penalty kick for Columbia.

Stepping up to the penalty spot for the Lions was Shaban, who summarily blasted the ball past Harms to give Columbia the early lead, 1-0.

After tallying its first goal of the match, the Lions showed no signs of letting up, as the Columbia offense continued to challenge the Harvard defense midway through the first half. A little more than 10 minutes after the first goal, Shaban scored another goal for Columbia, this time with a well-placed header to the back post off a corner kick by junior forward Nick Scott.

Suddenly down by two scores in the first half, the Crimson responded by increasing its offensive pressure for the remainder of the half.

With just seconds remaining on the clock, sophomore defender Pascal Mensah looked poised to cut down Columbia’s lead, but his last-second header floated just above the cross bar.

The start of the second period saw a change for the Crimson at net, with junior goalkeeper Brett Conrad replacing Harms.

Ten minutes into the second half during the 55th minute, the Crimson’s efforts finally paid off when McCarthy blasted a point-blank shot past Lions goalkeeper Alexander Aurrichio.

McCarthy’s opportunity was set up following a corner kick by sophomore defender Ross Friedman to junior defender Richard Smith, who then passed the ball to the waiting feet of McCarthy.

Buoyed by its first goal, the Crimson immediately regrouped in search of the equalizer.

With less than 27 minutes remaining in the match, Harvard looked to have completed that search when Schmoll unleashed a promising attempt on goal. But the freshman midfielder’s shot hit the crossbar and bounced back into play. Co-captain midfielder Tim Linden looked certain to knock in the rebound, but his shot flew wide of the net and out of play.

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