It wasn’t long before Quinnipiac realized what Dayton had only two days before—that too many early opportunities given to the Harvard women’s soccer team could only lead to an early deficit for the Crimson’s opponents.
With three goals scored by three different players, Harvard’s (3-1-1) offensive onslaught continued on Wednesday night and gave the Bobcats (4-1-1) their first loss of the season, 3-0, at Quinnipiac Soccer Field.
“We went into the game knowing that Quinnipiac has a big winning mentality,” sophomore goalkeeper Bethany Kanten said. “They were undefeated on the season before today, so we knew that they knew how to win games, how to score goals, and how to not give up goals. We just went into it and knew that we were going to have to play strong, which we did.”
It was less than ten minutes into the match when the Crimson put its first point on the scoreboard, thanks to a direct pass from freshman defender Alika Keene to junior forward Elizabeth Weisman. Upon receiving the pass, Weisman quickly controlled the ball and shot it right into the back of the net. The goal was good for Weisman’s third point of the season and prompted Kanten to deem the junior “a big offensive power.”
Harvard continued to set the tempo for the rest of the first period, not only maintaining possession of the ball for a majority of the period but also outnumbering Quinnipiac’s shot attempts, 8-2.
Following halftime, the Crimson presented a change in goal, giving sophomore Cheta Emba her first chance to play thus far this season. Emba continued where Kanten left off and the classmates combined for 90 minutes with no goals scored.
“We’re really developing some good chemistry back there [in goal],” junior co-captain Peyton Johnson explained. “We’re solid from top to bottom, moving up the chart. You saw that today with the combination of Bethany starting and Cheta coming in and doing such a great job. We’re definitely building our confidence back there.”
With a shutout going in goal, Harvard’s offense did its best in the second half to blow the game open. And, due in large part to two consecutive goals by Crimson freshmen, it did.
The first of the set came at the 65:32 mark, when rookie forward Lauren Varela netted the first collegiate goal of her career on her second shot of the night. It happened only six minutes after she checked back into the game and was credited to her as unassisted. The next came just short of 21 minutes later, at 86:17, and was driven home by forward Emily Mosbacher after a setup by defender and co-captain Catherine Coppinger, who is also a Crimson sports editor.
“The two freshmen getting the first goals of their careers was really big,” Johnson said. “They both came off the bench and really put the defense under pressure and scored some really nice goals. The last goal of the night, Emily’s, assisted by [Coppinger] was awesome. It was just a really nice combination play.”
With the three goals scored in Tuesday’s game, Harvard has already matched last season’s tally of two games with three or more goals scored. The Crimson racked up six in its last two matches and 11 so far this season. Kanten attributes this offensive outpour to the team’s comfort with one another
.“I think as a team we’re starting to click a little more,” Kanten explained. “I think that as the season goes on, you get to know who you’re playing with better as well as each player’s tendencies. I think that through that we’re really beginning to come together as a team.”
Johnson echoed her teammates sentiments, emphasizing the contrast between the more recent games and those played at the very beginning of the season.
“Early on we scored a lot of set pieces,” Johnson said. “But I think now that we’re in our groove and have a few games under our belt, scoring in the run of a play has come easier for us and we’re getting creative which is really good to see. We were able to compete for the full 90 which might be a first for us thus far this season.”
With the offense on a steady incline on one side of the field and the defense consistent in the net on the other, the only thing Harvard is looking to do right now is keep building on their early successes.
“I think we’re getting better, but we’re definitely not where we want to be or where we need to go,” Kanten concluded. “It’s just going to be about keeping the positive energy going and continuing to build on the team unity that we have right now.”
—Staff writer Juliet Spies-Gans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.