Last Saturday against Brown, junior midfielder Leah Mohammadi posted five shots, and the Crimson's two goalies made some stellar saves. Neither performance was enough for the ailing Harvard women’s soccer team to overcome the Bears.
Under an overcast sky at Ohiri Field, Brown (9-4, 2-2 Ivy League) defeated the Crimson (7-7, 1-3), by the slimmest of margins, 1-0, for its first matchup victory since 2010. The loss stranded Harvard with a 1-4 record over the past five weekends.
Bears junior forward/midfielder Jennifer Caruso netted the game-winner in the 54th minute off a long midfield cross from senior defender Maclaine Lehan. The tally lasted until the final whistle to mark the Crimson’s second straight 1-0 defeat.
Both sides took a beating during the match—the two teams combined for 27 fouls, with three yellow cards shown during the match, one to a Harvard player and two to the Bears side.
“In the second half, they were more physical in nature of play,” Crimson coach Chris Hamblin said. “They were able to wrestle the game in that direction, which isn’t necessarily our strength.”
Fighting back against a wave of injuries and illnesses, Harvard wasn’t able to shift into the proper offensive gear against Brown.
“It took us awhile to get the ball down in play, and unfortunately in that time, they had opened the scoring,” Hamblin said. “We tried to get back in, move the ball, and create some chances. We just didn’t have enough gas in our tank.”
Freshman forward Murphy Agnew, who garnered Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors in September, chipped in two shots on goal. Sophomore midfielder Meg Tveit hit the crossbar in the 41st minute, but the team’s woes when playing from behind continued.
Now 0-7 in games in which its opponent scores first, the Crimson has struggled to create offense when most needed. On the flip side, Harvard sports a 7-0 record in games in which it scores the first goal.
The rest of the stats favored the visitors on Saturday, if slightly. The Crimson was outshot, 15 to 12, and took two fewer corner kicks—five to Brown’s seven. The two teams were dynamically balanced, but the Bears came out on top on the strength of Caruso’s strike.
Junior Danielle Etzel and sophomore Kat Hess split time in goal, as they’ve done all season. Each made three saves apiece for Harvard. The two have an identical 33 stops each on the year.
Bears junior goalie Christine Etzel, meanwhile, recorded her third shutout of the season, moving into sole possession of third place on Brown’s all-time career shutouts list after making four saves in 90 minutes of work on Saturday. Christine and Crimson junior goalie Danielle Etzel are twins and have been featured on the Ivy League Network together.
Harvard has been fortunate to keep Etzel and Hess in goal in a season when injuries have sidelined key Crimson players for long stretches of time.
“That’s college athletics, and that’s sporting,” Hamblin said. “We recognize that. Our players were prepared to step into the roles and work hard.”
Sitting at 1-3 in conference play, and having lost four of its last five , Harvard has seen the prospect of a Ivy League repeat slip from its grasp. Playing soccer, however, is more than just playing for the standings.
“There’s going to be…years when Harvard doesn’t win a championship,” Hamblin said. “In those years, it’s really important that we grow every game. The attitude has been great. The response has been great.”
For the freshman, facing teams as skilled as Princeton grants invaluable experience. As of Oct. 8, the Tigers ranked sixth in the nation.
“We’ve unfortunately been very unlucky this season with injuries,” co-captain Caroline Chagares said. “However, many players have had to step up into new roles, so there has been a lot growth throughout the season.”
For the outgoing seniors, the season provides a chance to reflect on their important contributions to winning two Ivy titles in their first three seasons.“For the players returning to the program, we want to make sure we use these experiences to get better,” Hamblin said. “For the seniors, everyone wants to make sure they finish their careers well."
—Staff writer Bryan Hu can be reached at email@example.com.
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