Women's Soccer Hopes To Stay in Contention for League Title
After defeating Brown, 4-1, in Providence, the Harvard women’s soccer team (7-3-3, 2-1-1 Ivy) will look to pick up its fourth victory in five games against Princeton (9-3-1, 4-0-0) in Princeton, N.J. on Saturday. The Crimson has not lost for nearly a month since the team dropped their conference opener against Penn on Sept. 21.
“I think that we really came together as a team against Brown,” sophomore goalkeeper Bethany Kanten said. “I think the score doesn’t really show how much that game meant to us as a team for our confidence. It was important that we played really well together and played the style that we want to play.”
Although the Tigers are currently leading the Ivy League with twelve points—five more than Harvard—the Crimson is the league’s defending champion and defeated Princeton, 2-1, at home last season.
In 2010, the last time that Harvard visited Princeton, they came away with a 4-0 victory.
Against Holy Cross on Tuesday night, the Crimson scored four goals in the second half for the second straight game.
After a scoreless first half in which the teams managed a combined two shots on goal, Harvard scored five minutes into the second half on a strike from sophomore Mai Le and added a quick insurance goal on a header by sophomore midfielder Meg Casscells-Hamby.
Junior co-captain Peyton Johnson said the game provided good preparation for Saturday’s game against the Tigers.
“Having a midweek game is a great opportunity because it’s the best practice you can have for a big game like Princeton,” Johnson said. “I think we played really well. After a slow start in the first half, I think that we found a rhythm in the second half and played up to our potential.”
In their last three games, Harvard has limited its opponents to a combined five shots on goal in the second half—outscoring them, 8-2, over that time. Against the Bears, Johnson said that the Crimson submitted its most complete performance of the year.
“I think that the win against Brown was a huge step for us,” Johnson said. “At moments we have shown the kind of play that we can put together and the kind of team that we can be, and [last Saturday] we put together the kind of performance that helped prove who we are.”
With three goals and two assists in the last two Ancient Eight games, Casscells-Hamby has played a role in all five Crimson goals over that span. Harvard had a combined 20 shots on goal in the last two games compared to only three for its opponents. Kanten said the Brown game provided a model for how the team needs to play heading into their weekend tilt against Princeton.
“A big takeaway [from Brown] is that we can look at the game and see we can score a lot of goals and play together,” Kanten said. “This weekend is a big game for us and [Brown showed] that we are just as good as any other team—we can score, we can defend, and we can play with anybody. It’s definitely going to be a battle and you have to be 100 percent there emotionally and put everything into the game.”
In their last two games, six different Crimson players have had assists, and the team has had eight different players put a shot on goal. The team has scored as many goals in the last two games as it did in the previous seven. With the exception of an 8-1 loss against Boston College, Kanten and the defense have not allowed more than a single goal per game in nearly six weeks.
According to Johnson, during the game against Brown the team was able to maintain possession of the ball for fifteen or twenty passes at a time. Johnson continued by saying that if Harvard is able to come out this upcoming Saturday with the same level of intensity as it did in Providence, the team should have a good chance to come out victorious.
“I think that if we can put together a performance that is up to our potential, I think we can compete with any team in the league,” Johnson said. “If we can come out against Princeton with confidence and maintain the composure that we found against Brown that will put us in a really good position to win.”