The Harvard men’s soccer team will be looking to rebuild momentum and break a five-game winless streak when it hosts crosstown rival Boston College on Tuesday night at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium.
The Crimson (1-5-2, 0-0-1 Ivy) is looking forward to matching up with the Eagles (5-3-1, 1-1-1 ACC) before returning to Ivy League play against Cornell on Saturday.
“It’s always a great game just because its crosstown, and that’s something we enjoy,” junior defender Ross Friedman said. “You want to be the best in the area.”
Harvard tied Yale, 0-0, in double overtime last Saturday after going winless on a three-game West Coast road trip. The Crimson’s sole win this season came against Michigan State earlier this month.
Harvard dominated the Bulldogs for the majority of the contest but ultimately failed to capitalize on goal-scoring opportunities. Despite the result, the Crimson came away with many positive things to build on in Tuesday’s game.
“We’ve really figured out our system of pressure,” Friedman said. “In the Yale game, we had the ball mostly because every time they got it, we were all over them, and they would turn it over.”
Harvard kept the ball in Yale’s half for the majority of the game and displayed offensive creativity that it would like to recreate against BC.“We executed our playing style very well, and we were very good defending on Saturday” Crimson coach Carl Junot said. “
The only thing lacking in Saturday’s game was that urgency to score the winning goal.”The Eagles enter the contest on a three-game winning streak, most recently beating conference rival North Carolina State, 2-1.
BC’s offense is led by senior forward Charlie Rugg, who has contributed four of 12 goals scored by the team so far. In the win against NC State, Rugg logged one goal and one assist for his second straight match.
“It should be a really competitive game,” Junot said. “In my mind, in Charlie Rugg and [senior midfielder] Kyle Bekker, they have two of the better players in the country.”
Boston College has also relied on a strong defense, led by freshman goalkeeper Alex Kapp, who has allowed only one goal this season and boasts a remarkable 86 percent save rate. The Crimson knows that it will have to come out strong to shut down the technically skilled Eagles squad.
“The biggest thing is that we have to bring energy,” said Friedman. “BC is more of a skilled team so they are going to try to be passive. If we really surprise them by coming out strong, we are going to have more success against them.”
Harvard dropped last year’s contest, 2-0, after BC scored twice early on its home field. The Crimson trails in the all-time head-to-head series, going 6-10-4 since 1981. But Harvard is prepared for the stiff competition.
“BC is a very strong team,” Junot said. “Obviously we know them very well, being so local, and they know us well. Some of our players have grown up playing with and against each other.”
Harvard has been facing a deliberately tough non-conference schedule this year. After going winless in the Ivy League last season, Junot wanted to ensure that the Crimson was prepared for its conference contests. With only seven league games in the season, non-conference games are a way for Harvard to solidify its lineup and prepare mentally and physically for the challenges of the Ancient Eight.