It was a situation that the Harvard women’s soccer team had seen before. On Tuesday night, the Crimson found itself in a scoreless tie after 45 minutes, just as it did in Saturday’s contest against Brown.
But again, Harvard (7-3-3, 2-1-1 Ivy) reeled off four second-half goals to put away its opponent. Tuesday night’s victim was Holy Cross (6-8-1, 2-2 Patriot League), which was powerless to stop the Crimson offense as Harvard rolled to a 4-0 win at Soldier’s Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium.
The win extended the Crimson’s unbeaten streak to six matches as Harvard took down the Crusaders for the 15th time in 18 matchups.
“It was great to get a bunch of goals in tonight and keep up what we did on Saturday [against Brown],” sophomore midfielder Meg Casscells-Hamby said. “Our goal today was to keep playing like we did [on Saturday] to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Now, we know our game is on, and we’re really ready to play.”
The Crimson’s offense, which was streaky for the beginning part of the season, has been firing on all cylinders as of late. After scoring just eight goals in seven matches dating back to a Sept. 12 game against Quinnipiac, Harvard has scored eight in its past two games.
“We have really just been focusing on finishing our chances,” Casscells-Hamby said. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities—before, we had 31 shots in a game [against Central Connecticut State] but we didn’t score a goal—and our mentality is good. So it’s something we’ve been working on, and it’s good to see it pay off.”
The Crimson dominated all facets of Tuesday night’s game. Harvard outshot the Crusaders, 19-7, in a chippy match that saw Holy Cross commit 19 fouls. Despite the Crusaders’ aggressive style of play, they managed just two shots on goal, and sophomore goalkeeper Bethany Kanten saved both. Kanten has allowed just three goals in her past five games.
“Our defense played amazing at Brown, and they used that momentum and kept their game going today,” junior forward Elizabeth Weisman said. “They’re young, but they’re really determined to play well together and work really well together. They’re always talking to the coaches to figure out how they can get better. And they’ve gotten dramatically better as the season’s gone on.”
The game initially looked reminiscent of several games early this season—with Harvard’s slow start and inability to finish chances. But the second half would be a completely different story.
In the 50th minute, sophomore Mai Le dribbled into the box and rifled a shot past Holy Cross goalkeeper Ashlyn Angell and into the top left corner for her first goal of the season.
Le would assist on Casscells-Hamby’s goal 15 minutes later, when Casscells-Hamby headed the ball in off Le’s cross for her team-leading sixth goal of the year.
The scoring didn’t stop there. Weisman scored on a header off of one of senior midfielder Aisha Price’s patented long throw-ins in the 71st minute, and senior forward Alexandra Conigliaro connected for her first score of the year in the 84th minute on a shot from 18 yards out to put the game away for good.
And the Crimson seems to be rounding into form, heading into the homestretch of the Ivy League season.
“What’s really been working for us the past few games is just having fun and taking the pressure off ourselves,” Kanten said. “We’re playing soccer how we want to play—just passing well, sharing the ball, and shooting well.”
Kanten also put forth an explanation for the disparity between the team’s first and second half offensive output.
“At the beginning of the game you’re hyped up, and there’s a lot of adrenaline,” Kanten said. “After a while, you settle into the game and realize: ‘Now we need to start playing and scoring goals.’ It’s great that we’re scoring a lot, but I think it’s also important that we focus on scoring goals in the first half because that’s important for setting the tone in games.”
Harvard is planning to use this momentum as it prepares for its showdown with first-place Princeton on Saturday.
“We’re really excited that we’ve kept this winning momentum going and we’re looking forward to doing that again this weekend,” Weisman said. “If we play the way we’ve been playing, the goals will come and I know we’ll do well.”