With little over 20 minutes remaining in regulation, the outcome of the Boston University-Harvard matchup looked like it would fall the way it had in the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament—in favor of the Terriers.
But thanks to the second goal of the game from senior defender Taryn Kurcz, the Crimson came back and ultimately finished the game in a 2-2 tie Monday night at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium.
“[Kurcz] was awesome,” said sophomore goalie Bethany Kanten. “She started tonight, and our coach said that he put her in there to cause them trouble because she works harder than anybody. She is never going to give up, she’s going to run 100 percent all the time. It obviously worked really well out for her and for everybody tonight. She was really great.”
The equalizing goal came 67:25 into the contest after a Boston University (3-2-1) foul set up a free kick for junior co-captain Peyton Johnson. Johnson swung the ball from one side of the field to the other, placing it to the left of the box and setting up Kurcz’s 15-yard header.
Neither team scored again for the duration of the second half, sending the match to overtime. And after 20 more minutes of gameplay with no more scores from either side, the final whistle blew signaling Harvard’s (1-0-1) first tie of the season.
Like her first goal, Kurcz’s second come on a set piece. With 4:36 elapsed in the first period and the ball sent out of bounds by a Terrier defender, senior Aisha Price threw in the ball from the left sideline. Kurcz, a Crimson sports executive, placed herself near the right side of the box and headed the ball in for the first score of the game, a near mirror image of the goal later to come.
But Kurcz gave the credit to her teammates, Price and Johnson.
“The [passes] were on point tonight,” Kurcz said. “The first one, from Aisha—her throws are just incredible. It was perfectly placed. The same thing with Peyton. She put it in the perfect spot for me to get it. They gave me the opportunity and pretty much put it on a silver platter for me to finish it.”
The game was tied up 33 minutes later when a Boston University corner kick eventually resulted in a goal for Jenna Fisher. The initial shot sent Crimson goalkeeper Bethany Kanten diving forward, deflecting the ball but rendering her unavailable to save the following attempt, a 15-yard goal by Fisher.
At the 63:23 mark, the Terriers’ momentum continued with its second and final goal of the evening. The play began when Taylor Krebs sent a pass downfield towards teammate Clare Pleuler. Pleuler beat two Harvard players to the ball, dribbled it further down the right sideline, and ultimately ended up netting the ball from 12 yards out.
Boston University outshot the Crimson, 20-18. Of the seven Terrier shots on goal, Kanten stopped five, marking her second straight game with five saves.
“I’ve just gotten a lot more confident. and I’m not scared to play BU anymore,” Kanten said. “Last fall, it was scary because they’re a big-time program and they have a lot of really good players, but now it’s like, ‘Let’s bring it. We’re just as good as they are.’”
And, with the Kurcz goal that came in the 67th minute, Harvard officially put its four-game losing streak against Boston University to bed along with some of its more bitter memories from last year.
“There was a lot of emotion still from last season. We wanted to show them what kind of team we are,” Kanten said. “I think that in our tournament game [last year], we didn’t really show them that we could play, that we could compete, and that we could really challenge them. I think we did that today.”
Kurcz’s sentiments echoed that of her teammates, as she stressed the confidence that the team has going forward.
“We’ve struggled with BU in the past, but we came out with a totally different mentality this time,” Kurcz said. “We know we’re a good team. We just came out confident and just put away our chances. We’re never happy with a tie, but I’m proud of the way the team played.”
—Staff writer Juliet Spies-Gans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.