On paper, it was an impressive weekend for the Harvard men’s soccer team. But, in reality, it was much more than that.
The Crimson welcomed the Cape Verde All-Stars on Friday night to Harvard Stadium before hosting the Haitian national team Sunday night. Both games drew over 1000 fans, most Cape Verdean and Haitian supporters sporting their countries’ colors or waving flags.
Friday’s game supported Coaches Across Continents, an organization devoted to social change through the implementation of soccer leagues in impoverished countries. Sunday night benefitted Partners in Health, a global health initiative, founded in part by Harvard professor Dr. Paul Farmer, that is assisting post-earthquake Haiti’s health infrastructure.
On the pitch, each shot, run, and pass finding a player in space was greeted by loud cheers and gasps, as the Boston area Haitian and Cape Verdean communities were well-represented at Harvard Stadium. Under Sunday night’s rain, most of the 1209 spectators rejected the covered seating high in the stands to be as close to the action as possible.
In addition to the charitable contributions and the cultural celebrations, Harvard was able to steal a 1-0 against Haiti after falling in penalty kicks to the Cape Verde All-Stars after a 1-1 draw in regulation.
“From our team’s standpoint, we work the entire spring towards these games,” Crimson coach Carl Junot said. “We’re building and building and building, so to be able to come out and play these games is exciting.”
HARVARD 1, HAITI 0
After failing to score until late in Friday’s loss to the Cape Verde All-Stars, Harvard’s offense came out aggressive in the Crimson’s Sunday matchup with the Haitian national team.
Harvard earned several early set pieces. Junior center back Richard Smith and sophomore left back Pascal Mensah both had looks at the goal off corner kicks in the first five minutes, but both attempts went wide.
But after the opening exchanges, Les Grenadiers began to find an attacking rhythm of their own and took control of the game.
Monuma Constant gave Haiti its best chance of the half in the 11th minute. Constant beat the Harvard backline and sent a shot through the legs of Crimson goalkeeper Brett Conrad.
But freshman center back Tyler Evans was there to make a sliding goal-line clearance before the ball could break the plane.
But as the half went on, both teams struggled to find holes in the opposing defense.
But towards the end of the half, Haiti’s one-touch style of play began to create chances. Donald Guerrier used his speed to beat the Harvard defense and then launched a low effort. But Conrad was able to parry, and the squads went into the locker room all square.
Much like the first half, the second stanza began with a flurry of opportunities and then settled into a battle of the midfield. But this time it was Haiti that came out with its foot on the pedal.