The Harvard women’s soccer team travels to Hamden, Conn. on Wednesday afternoon looking to preserve its undefeated road record. Led by junior co-captain Peyton Johnson and senior Taryn Kurcz offensively and sophomore Bethany Kanten in net, the Crimson (2-1-1) will take on Quinnipiac (5-0-1) in Harvard’s last away contest before Ivy League competition begins.
In Harvard’s most recent a matchup—a 3-1 win at Colgate on Sunday—Kanten stopped five of six shots she faced, increasing her save percentage to 79.3 percent. Against the Bobcats’ strong offense, Kanten will need to turn in another strong performance. Kemesha Woodfine leads all Bobcat players with two goals, accounting for 40 percent of her team’s overall scoring. Junior Aine McKeever, sophomore Christina Cesarini, and freshman Shannon Larkin have also found the back of the net this season.
“I don’t think that their strong offense changes anything for us and what we’re trying to do,” said sophomore midfielder Lauren Urke, who scored the game winner against Colgate. “As we always try to do, we’re going to assume that Quinnipiac will be a good team with a strong offense and do our best.”
In addition to slowing the Bobcats, the Crimson will need offensive production of its own. Johnson and Kurcz have paced Harvard’s offense thus far, with Kurcz tallying a team-high three goals and Johnson recording a team-high four assists and a goal. Urke, senior Aisha Price, sophomore Meg Cassells-Hamby, and freshmen Lauren Varela and Haley Washburn have scored one goal apiece.
Senior goalkeeper Jill Kelley will be in charge of stopping Harvard’s offense. Through four games, Kelley boasts a 92.3-percent save percentage.
“Going into a game, we don’t look to watch out for one specific player to pay more attention to. We focus on stopping the best players during each game,” Urke said. “If Kelley is one of the best players, along with Cesarini, we will watch out for her.”
Harvard and Quinnipiac each have an 11.6 percent shot percentage, putting more pressure on their respective defenses. While the Crimson has an average of two goals per game this season, the Bobcats have an average of one.
Leading up to Wednesday’s game, Harvard has worked on maintaining possession.
“This week we have worked mostly on connecting passes and playing the best as a team. By connecting our passes better, we can improve our number of goals,” Urke said. “Even though we have worked on this all week, we will continue to work on this during the game and hope that it leads us to a win.”
With Sunday’s 1-0 win over Hartford, Quinnipiac extended its home winning streak to four games, a streak that dates back to the 2011 season.
Though Harvard is focused on this win, the players are putting more emphasis on playing well..
“We’re focusing on us, making sure to play well and score goals,” Kanten said. “If we focus more on the other team, that could hurt us in the end, so we’re going into the game [today] without worrying about each team’s record.”
According to Johnson, the Crimson is looking to use this game as preparation for Ivy League play, which begins at Penn on Sept. 21.
“Taking our game to the road is a challenge, but we have to overcome and beat this challenge,” Johnson said. “We know that the Ivies are not far away, so we need to keep our eyes focused ahead. If we win against Quinnipiac, we will definitely have more confidence going against Penn.”