For the second time in as many contests, the Harvard women’s soccer team left the field on Sunday down 1-0 at halftime.
Just two days prior in Cambridge, Harvard had found itself trailing 1-0 at the break to Dayton, and despite a strong effort in the second half, the Crimson fell, 3-1, for its first loss of the season.
But Sunday proved to be a different story as Harvard scored three unanswered goals to win, 3-1, in Hamilton, N.Y.
“It wasn’t like we had a major tactical error that led to [Colgate’s] goal or in the half overall,” junior co-captain Peyton Johnson said. “But in the locker room, we all just realized that we all needed to be on the same page. In the second half, we all came out pressuring all together.”
Colgate (5-3-1) opened up the match with better goal-scoring opportunities. With the Raiders pressing deep into Crimson (2-1-1) territory at the 22nd minute, Colgate nearly registered its first goal of the match when forward Jillian Kinter’s one-touch pass found the feet of teammate Catherine Williams. But Williams was denied by the back post, keeping the game scoreless.
The Crimson was not as fortunate towards the end of the first half. With less than four minutes remaining in the frame, Williams, despite heavy pressure, delivered a cross into the Crimson penalty box, and Kinter summarily finished off the pass with a header into the back of the net for the goal.
Coming out of the break, Harvard immediately took control of the match with a newfound vigor both on the offensive and defensive ends of the pitch.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Crimson finally broke through the Raiders’ back line.
Defensively, Harvard contained Colgate’s dynamic duo of Kinter and Williams, limiting the home team’s scoring opportunities.
During the second half, after just four minutes, the Crimson’s offensive pressure led to two consecutive corner kick opportunities. On the second corner, with Johnson delivering the corner kick, senior midfielder Aisha Price’s header on goal gave Harvard its first goal of the match and levelled the score at one goal apiece.
The Crimson grabbed a 2-1 lead at the 67th minute of play when a defensive slip-up by Colgate during a Harvard counterattack allowed junior forward Elizabeth Weisman to thread a pass across the box to sophomore midfielder Lauren Urke. With just the keeper to beat, Urke finished from 12 yards out to put the Crimson ahead, 2-1.
With 15 minutes to play, despite a furious attempt by the Raiders to tie the game once again, Harvard extended its lead to two goals when sophomore midfielder Meg Casscells-Hamby broke through the Colgate defense into the penalty box and shot past the Raiders goalkeeper.
Finding itself down two goals with less than 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Colgate fought to close the scoreline by maintaining consistent pressure on the Crimson backline until the final moments of the match. Though the Raiders threatened, Harvard held strong and finished with a 3-1 victory.
For the Crimson, despite the two-goal victory over Colgate, this match in many ways was a tale of two halves.
“We came out in the first half not as energized as we should have,” sophomore goalkeeper Bethany Kanten said. “But in the second half we came out with a change in mentality. At the end of the game all of us were all just like—wow, that was really fun. It was just so much fun to go out there in the second half, all of us energized and on the same page connecting passes so smoothly.”
Maintaining the same level of intensity of play is therefore the primary aim of Harvard heading into Wednesday’s road game against Quinnipiac.
“We are going to be looking to connect passes the way we did in the second half, but for a full 90 minutes,” Johnson said. “Maintaining composure from the get-go is also a working point for us.
“But I also believe that what allowed us to maintain such great offense was our great defense today,” Johnson added. “If we can continue to build on that this week, we should be in good shape going forward.”
—Staff writer Oluwatoni A. Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.