After failing to score in regulation, the Harvard women’s soccer team wasted little time finding the back of the net in the extra period. Just over four minutes into overtime, sophomore midfielder Lauren Urke dribbled down the right side of the field and centered to sophomore midfielder Meg Casscells-Hamby, who drilled the ball into the upper right of the cage, giving Harvard a 1-0 win over Yale on Saturday at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium.
“The season is still alive,” said junior co-captain Peyton Johnson, whose squad lost its Ivy opener last weekend. “We knew coming into this game that our Ivy League hopes rode on this game, and from here on out we are chasing that. The [outcome] of the game re-instilled the belief that we have in this team in the best way possible.”
Both the Crimson (4-3-2, 1-1 Ivy) and the Bulldogs (5-5, 0-2) struggled to put the ball away for most of the match, with Harvard taking 25 shots (nine on goal) compared to Yale’s five.
In the first seven minutes of play, senior defender Taryn Kurcz, working off a through-ball pass, fired a shot toward goal, but freshman goalkeeper Rachel Ames blocked the attempt.
The Crimson had another chance on goal later in the first half when senior midfielder Alicia Johnson crossed the ball into the 18-yard box to find sophomore forward Erica Garcia, who volleyed a shot just high of the crossbar. Harvard outshot Yale, 9-3, at the end of the first half.
“At halftime we had started off really strong, and then in the last 15 minutes or so it had become a more even game,”Johnson said. “So we were determined to come out with the same intensity we had in the beginning, and I think we definitely did that.”
With the ball predominately on the Bulldog defensive half during the second 45-minute period, the Crimson offense had many looks on goal, the first of which came five minutes into the half when Casscells-Hamby nailed a shot just left of the goalpost. Another attempt occurred in the 57th minute, when Casscells-Hamby crossed the ball into the box where Urke volleyed a shot into Ames’ hands.
In the 72nd minute of the match, Johnson rocketed a shot off a loose ball in the 18-yard box but missed to the right. Harvard’s final attempt on goal of the second half came from junior forward Elizabeth Weisman, but Ames stopped the shot.
In total during the second half, the Crimson had more scoring opportunities, outshooting the Bulldogs, 13-1. Despite several key throw-ins into the 18-yard box by senior midfielder Aisha Price and three corner kicks from Johnson, Harvard failed to capitalize and entered into overtime with the score tied at 0-0.
Entering into a 10-minute overtime period, the Crimson continued to relentlessly pressure the Bulldog defense.
“We forced 45 straight minutes of pressure [in the second half], not letting them out of their defensive half,” Johnson said. “Going into overtime there wasn’t even kind of a game plan or any motivational speech. We had all the momentum we needed, and it was just a matter of breaking through.”
Harvard’s first offensive attack came in the third minute of overtime when Weisman powered the ball down the middle of the field.
She fired a shot on target that Ames fumbled before regaining possession. Thirty seconds later, Yale had an opportunity on goal, but Bulldog freshman forward Paula Hagopian missed a shot just high of the crossbar.
Finally, in the fifth minute of overtime, sophomore midfielder Lauren Urke centered the ball from the right side, and Casscells-Hamby found contact and powered a right-footed shot into the goal, ending the game with a Crimson victory.
“I think we’re just going to continue to work on connecting between the midfielders and the forwards so that we can do what we want to do, which is put the ball in the net,” Urke said.
In 90 minutes of regulation play and six minutes of overtime, Harvard outshot Yale, 25-5. Although the Bulldogs had the edge over the Crimson on corner kicks, 5-3, the Yale offense never had a single shot on target throughout the match.
“We definitely wouldn’t have been able to do as well as we did in the game without the backline,” Urke said. “They did awesome at not only stopping the attack but winning the ball and taking the ball.”
With the win over its rival, Harvard improved to 1-1 in Ivy play, one game back of undefeated Princeton, Penn, and Columbia.
“It’s a historic rivalry, so we always look forward to this game,” Johnson said. “I’m glad it went the way it did.”