Junior co-captain Peyton Johnson set up the free kick, stepped up, and curled the ball to freshman forward Emily Mosbacher, who was waiting on the back post. Mosbacher leaped and headed the ball into the top right of the net. The 52nd-minute strike, Mosbacher’s second score of the year, gave the Harvard women’s soccer team (5-3-2, 1-1 Ivy) a lead it would never relinquish in a 2-1 victory at New Hampshire (3-8-2, 1-1-1 America East) on Tuesday night.
The win was the Crimson’s second straight following Saturday’s victory over Yale.
“Another game in the win column is always a great thing for the team, especially at this point in the season because every game matters so much,” said Johnson, who leads the team with nine points.
More important than the win, though, is that the team is beginning to gel and build momentum, according to Johnson.
“We definitely wanted to continue an upward trajectory leading into the weekend,” Johnson said. “The goal was to come up strong and to get good chances. We had been having some trouble scoring, but today we got some good shots and were able to capitalize in some good spots.”
Tuesday’s contest marked the first time since Harvard’s Sept. 12 game at Quinnipiac that the Crimson tallied multiple goals in a match. The team, said junior Elizabeth Weisman, sees this as a reflection of its offensive strategy.
“It was obviously nice to get a couple goals today,” Weisman said. “We came out and tried to do what we usually do, which is create a lot of chances [to score]. Today, we were able to get goals, which is very exciting.”
Harvard was able to create opportunities by adjusting to the Wildcat defense and the wet field, explained Johnson.
“We had our best chances when we calmed down and possessed the ball,” Johnson said. “It was a wet, slippery game, and when we played direct, it wasn’t working for us. When we settled down and found each other’s feet and were able to stay composed, then we created good chances.”
It took a while for the Crimson to settle down, though, as New Hampshire controlled the early part of the game and struck first.
At 27:00, Wildcat midfielder Tara Fraprie dribbled into the left side of the box and knocked the ball past Harvard sophomore goalkeeper Cheta Emba, who was filling in for starter Bethany Kanten.
But the Crimson did not wait long to answer New Hampshire’s goal. Five substitutes entered the game for Harvard after the Wildcat score and made an immediate impact. In the 37th minute, Weisman, a substitute, passed it to Mosbacher, who took on a defender and drew the foul in the box. Johnson, a recent reentry, took the ensuing penalty kick and drilled the ball past New Hampshire goalkeeper Erin Jackson and into the back of the net.
Although many reserves took the field on Tuesday night, the Crimson’s chemistry was not affected.
“We got a lot of different people on the field, and we were able to maintain the rhythm on the field no matter who was in the game,” Johnson said. “It’s a great thing for our team chemistry because we know we can put anyone out there and still stay connected.”
Harvard coach Ray Leone decided to rest sophomore goalkeeper Kanten, but Emba was able to carry the team and stabilize the back end.
“Cheta played awesome,” Weisman said. “She talks a lot and communicates well, which makes everyone on the field feel really comfortable because she knows what’s going on. She’s our support on the back end, and she did really well today.”
Emba made several crucial second-half stops to preserve the Crimson lead en route to a career-high seven saves. She saved chances by Kristi Zarilli (53:08) and Gabrielle Sloan (76:59), and helped the visiting team survive despite being out-shot nine to four by the Wildcats in the second half.
New Hampshire out-shot Harvard 18-13 for the match, and held an eight-seven advantage on shots on goal.
The Wildcats had a few chances in the waning minutes to even the score, but Madeline Christ’s shot at 89:05 sailed over the crossbar and Monique Lamotte’s attempt 30 seconds later missed wide.
“The win was definitely great, given that we weren’t at our best,” Johnson said. “The conditions were different, and it really helps our confidence to get a win even though we weren’t playing at 100 percent. To come away with a victory proves that we can do it even if we’re not clicking. We won’t lose faith and will battle it out until the end.”