After dominating the first 30 minutes of Wednesday night’s game against crosstown rival Boston University, the Harvard men’s soccer team lost its lead and its momentum.
As the final minutes ticked off the scoreboard, rather than a frantic sprint for a goal, the Crimson stuck with its possession-based game, probing the Terriers’ defense for holes.
Ultimately, the second goal did not come for Harvard. But, despite the result, head coach Carl Junot displayed great optimism after the final whistle.
With the Crimson’s Ivy League opener against Yale on Saturday in New Haven, Junot emphasized maintaining a strong game plan as a key goal of this matchup in preparation for the weekend.
“In some games, you would look to change the strategy because you’re down a goal and you have to chase the game,” Junot said. “I think we were taking something very specific from [this game]. We were trying to take away playing shape and how we pressure the ball. There were no strategy changes [toward the end of the game] because we wanted to see if we could further execute what we were trying to do.”
Junot made numerous substitutions before the start of the second half, including a goalkeeper change.
“We are very fortunate in that we are very near 100 percent health, which was one of our goals at the beginning of the season,” Junot said. “There are certain things you can control and some you cannot, and health and fitness is one [thing you can control]. I think going into Ivy League play it will be important.”
“You never want to be happy with a loss,” Junot continued. “But there are certainly positives to take out of [this game].”
DEALING WITH THE LONG BALL
As Harvard dictated the game with great possession play in the first half, BU seemed perfectly content to sit back and absorb the Crimson’s offensive pressure. When the Terriers did recover the ball, they pushed forward with long balls to their attacking players.
“We made sure to cut out their midfield play and force them to play those [long balls],” junior forward Zack Wolfenzon said. “That was exactly what we wanted. We feel comfortable with them lumping balls back and having our guys deal with it.”
The Harvard back line did well to smother the BU counter attack in the first half with strong physical play, especially from sophomore defender Pascal Mensah.
However, the Crimson defense would eventually falter, as BU freshman midfielder Cameron Souri ran into the box unmarked and put a strong shot past senior goalkeeper Austin Harms.
“When they got their goal, I was a little disappointed with how the pure momentum of the goal deflated what we were working on,” Junot said. “I thought we lost focus of executing the game plan.”
LIFE WITHOUT ROGERS