The Harvard men’s soccer team outshot Columbia on Saturday evening but failed to score in a 1-0 loss on Senior Night at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium. With the defeat, Harvard (2-10-3, 0-5-1 Ivy) extended its winless Ivy drought, having not come out on top in an Ancient Eight contest since 2010 after winning the league in 2009.
Playing in frigid conditions, both the Crimson and the Lions (4-7-4, 2-2-2) struggled to warm up offensively early in the first half, mustering a combined three shots on goal in the period while maintaining primary possession play around midfield.
Harvard’s best opportunity in the first half came 13 minutes into the contest, when senior forward Brian Rogers broke through the Columbia defense to rip a shot on freshman goalkeeper Kyle Jackson from the top of the box. The shot ricocheted off Jackson back to Rogers, leaving him with the ball in front of the net. But his follow-up shot was blocked by a Lions defender and sailed wide of the net.
While this sequence was representative of Harvard’s offensive attempts for the rest of the match, Columbia made its lone shot on goal in the first period count. With eight minutes to play in the half, freshman forward Fredrick Elliot sent in a long throw-in from the right side. Senior defender Quentin Grigsby headed the ball past freshman goalkeeper Evan Mendez, who had misjudged its trajectory and allowed it to slide into the right side of the net. Mendez finished the match with one save for the Crimson.
The Harvard offense picked up its intensity in the second half with five shots on goal but was ultimately unable to convert its attempts and tie the contest at one.
The Crimson led the Lions, 13-10, in shots and 7-2 in shots on goal for the match.
Rogers, who was injured last year and has slowly integrated himself into the offense this season, led the team with four shots, three of which were on goal. Freshman forward Oliver White also added two shots on goal.
“We were getting forward pretty well,” co-captain Scott Prozeller said. “We lacked the final pass, but we were creating set pieces and giving ourselves opportunities.”
“We should have come out in the first half the way we played in the second,” sophomore forward Hiroki Kobayashi added.
While the opportunities were there, Harvard lacked the extra effort to finish and knot the score. The Crimson was held without a goal for the fifth time this season.
“One player just needed to step up and score a goal, and I think the game would have turned out a lot different,” Kobayashi said.
“It was a disappointing result,” Prozeller added. “I don’t think we were outplayed or outclassed, I just don’t think we came out in the first half. The second half we had a couple opportunities to finish, and that was the difference in the game. They had two opportunities and scored once, [and] we had four or five and couldn’t put them away.”
After the contest, Crimson coach Carl Junot spoke with his team about the result in light of another disappointing Ancient Eight performance.
“We talked about how we take the losses, how we only have two wins, and [how] it’s been like that for two years,” Kobayashi said.
The loss came on Senior Night, when parents came from all over to see the athletes play at home in the conference for the final time.
“It was definitely disappointing to lose [on Senior Night],” Prozeller said. “However, it was nice to have our parents there as support.”
Harvard does have one more opportunity to break its winless Ivy streak when it challenges Penn (2-13, 0-6) on Saturday. The Quakers dwell below the Crimson at the bottom of the Ancient Eight, also winless but with no ties. Harvard will also face Holy Cross (5-9-2, 2-3-2 Patriot) in its final home game on Tuesday night.
As it enters its remaining two contests of the season, the Crimson will aim to put together a total effort, looking to its individuals to step up and lead the way.
“I think we just need to focus on putting a full 90 minutes together,” Prozeller said. “I don’t think that is something we’ve been able to do all year, really executing top-to-bottom for an entire game.”