An early defensive misplay would come back to haunt Harvard women’s soccer on Wednesday night at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.
In the sixth minute, a misplayed pass by the Crimson defense led to a breakaway and a chance for BU freshman Anna Heilferty, who put Harvard in an early 1-0 hole. BU senior Christina Wakefield, who has started each of the Terriers’ 15 games, assisted on the play to up her team-leading tally to two assists to go along with four goals on the season.
In what was primarily a one-sided affair, however, Heilferty’s early strike was enough to give the Terriers (6-6-3, 3-1-1 Patriot League) the victory. BU registered 20 shots, compared to six for Harvard, and cruised to a 1-0 win.
The Crimson (7-6, 1-2 Ivy League) entered Wednesday’s game, the final non-conference tilt of the season, fresh off a 3-1 victory over Cornell on Saturday. And Harvard had history on its side, holding a 13-7-6 lead over BU in the series’ history. Last year’s contest between the crosstown rivals ended in a 2-2 double overtime tie in Cambridge.
“BU…is currently near the top of their conference,” Harvard coach Chris Hamblin said. “We knew we would get a good test.”
The Terriers entered play with a 4-3-0 home record in 2017. BU had lost only one of its previous six contests. Over that stretch, the Terriers had outscored their opponents 11-1, with five shutouts. Last night’s game extended that defensive dominance.
“We knew BU is a very good team,” captain Caroline Chagares said. “They have a very tall back line.”
BU’s offense also performed. The home team applied enormous pressure throughout the first half, dominating possession and earning the lion’s share of scoring chances. The hosts dwarfed Harvard’s two shots with 11 of its own, five of which landed on goal.
The Crimson was fortunate to enter the intermission trailing by only one goal, as Wakefield followed her assist with an effort that struck the post, narrowly missing an opportunity to double the lead.
The second half proved to be more of the same for the Crimson, with chances coming few and far between. Harvard recorded a paltry four shots over the final 45 minutes.
On the other side of the pitch, the Crimson defense, along with goalkeepers sophomore Kat Hess and junior Danielle Etzel, did well to keep Harvard within striking distance. But as was the case in recent games against Penn and Yale, the offense was unable to break through the BU defense.
In keeping with recent strategy, Hamblin played Hess and Etzel for a half each, with Etzel conceding the goal but parrying away four shots. Hess, a native of Newport Beach, CA., entered in the second half, saving three Terrier shots to keep the score at 1-0.
Harvard played more conservatively than it might have in Ivy League play, trying to keep the deficit at one goal.
“Of course our goal tonight was to win the game,” Hamblin said. “But we were focused on our defensive shape as well to make sure that we don’t concede.”
Sophomore Kimaya Cole led the Crimson with two shots, both of which were on goal. However, freshman goalkeeper Amanda Fay stymied these two effort, as well as all others.
“I think we started out a bit frantic,” Chagares said. “We want to try to turn their back line and get at them. We ended up getting most of our chances at the end of the second half.”
The Crimson, short-handed without captains Marie Becker and Chagares, utilized a deep bench, substituting six players into the game.
“We had some holes out on the field to fill,” Hamblin said. “But as a result we had an opportunity to experiment with different players in some different positions.”
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