With the start of every school year, there is always a point after catching up with friends and turning in a study card when one realizes that it’s now time to get back to work.
As the season’s opening victory over Northeastern fades into memory, a pair of losses for the Harvard men’s soccer team this weekend served as a similar reminder that there is still a whole season ahead and a lot of work to be done.
The Crimson (1-2) dropped its matchup Friday night, 2-0, to No. 25 St. John’s (3-1) before falling to Rhode Island (2-4), 2-1, in Sunday afternoon’s contest at Ohiri Field.
“I think we played good soccer this weekend,” Crimson coach Carl Junot said. “We moved the ball quickly, and we attacked and pressured well … Going forward, I think our biggest challenges are in front of both goals, in terms of defensive accountability in the final third and improving finishing quality. I know that we recognize our mistakes and that we can fix them.”
RHODE ISLAND 2, HARVARD 1
Possession is important, but at the end of the day what really matters is who can persevere and capitalize on chances to put away the ball.
Facing a 1-0 deficit at halftime, Harvard battled back to even the score in the 72nd minute, but a well-placed header six minutes later sealed the win for the Rams.
The Crimson evened the score when freshman midfielder Tim Schmoll threaded a pass through the Rhode Island defense. Junior Brian Rogers muscled his way behind the line, capitalizing on a hesitation by a Rams defender, to place the ball far-post and even the score at 71:14.
With the intensity and physicality of the game increasing, Rhode Island responded six minutes later, putting another goal on the scoreboard when freshman midfielder Matt Sykes sent a ball in from the left side to rookie forward Ross Morison, who headed the ball back across the goal into the upper-left hand corner for the game-winning tally.
Both teams had battled for possession at the beginning of the match, with the Harvard offense having the edge in shots. But the Rams were first to put the ball in the back of the net when Morison took advantage of an errant drop kick. The forward then beat Crimson keeper Brett Conrad on a one-on-one for the goal at the 20th minute.
Harvard outshot Rhode Island, 20-7, and outnumbered the squad in corners, 6-1, yet the Crimson was unable to capitalize on its possession in the final third.
“This game obviously was a really tough loss for us,” co-captain Tim Linden said. “I think if we played them 10 more times, we would probably win nine out of 10. It ultimately comes down to whoever scores the most goals. We feel that there will be a lot that we can learn from both games this weekend, and right now, we are trying to stay positive.”
ST. JOHN’S 2, HARVARD 0
The road wasn’t friendly to the Harvard men’s soccer team Friday night, with the Crimson dropping its first away game of the season to No. 25 St. John’s, 2-0.
Playing at Belson Stadium in Queens, N.Y., the Red Storm (3-1) came out strong on the offensive, putting Harvard (1-1) immediately under pressure. After the 17th minute, St. John’s took five corner kicks in nearly the same number of minutes, with junior midfielder Ido Ligety ultimately converting on a header to give the Red Storm the lead. The St. John’s defense limited the Crimson to one shot in the first half, ending the period with the 1-0 edge.
The Red Storm showed no signs of letting up, continuing to challenge the Harvard defense in the second half. Less than six minutes into the period, senior forward Walter Hines tallied another point for St. John’s with a chip shot from 12 yards out off an assist by freshman midfielder Daniel Herrera. Although the Red Storm had seven corners in the latter half to the Crimson’s one, the Harvard defense stayed strong to keep the final score at 2-0.
St. John’s outshot the Crimson, 14-3, with senior goalkeeper Austin Harms recording five saves for Harvard.
“St. John’s is extremely good, especially at home,” Junot said. “[It is] a legitimate top team this year if they stay healthy. I thought we matched St. John’s’ possession, but they created more goal-scoring opportunities.
“Do we want possession? Yes. But we want possession with goal-scoring opportunities coming from it, and this is a focus for our team going forward,” Junot said.
—Staff writer Stephanie E. Herwatt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.