Come Saturday night’s close on Rocco B. Commisso Stadium in New York, N.Y., two things could be said:
Have a career game, Danielle Etzel. Have a career, Marie Becker, Caroline Chagares, Candy Janachowski, and Dani Stollar.
Led by junior goalkeeper Etzel’s stellar career performance between the pipes, the Harvard women’s soccer team (8-8-1, 2-4-1 Ivy League) closed out its season with a 0-0 double-overtime draw against Ivy League runner-up Columbia (9-5-2, 5-1-1).
Etzel was the wall that the Lions couldn’t get past.
Making a career-high 16 saves in 110 minutes, the Madison, Conn. native followed up her 13-stop performance last weekend with one of the finest shutout performances by a goalkeeper in the country this year. Etzel’s 16 saves were fifth-most by any netminder this season and tops in the Ivy League.
“She’s been purely awesome, she’s such a rock in goal,” Becker said. “Personally, as a center-back, I’m really sad I don’t get to play in front of her [any more], because right now she’s giving us a sense of security—that’s what you want from your goalkeeper.”
The entire Crimson defense had to batten down the hatches, too—Harvard resolutely withstood a barrage of 39 shots during the game, including 17 efforts in the first half. Etzel saved five shots on goal in overtime alone. With Columbia’s attacking unit firing on all cylinders, the Crimson also withstood nine total corner kicks.
“Our team was low on numbers…we had three subs and not all of them were healthy,” Becker said. “It was a grind and we knew it was going to be a grind, and I’m so, so, so proud of how the team did what the coaches asked: fight until the end and give it all you have.”
If there’s one game that’s a testament to the graduating class’s grit, it must be this one. The defensive struggle against one of the Ivy’s best programs closed out careers for Harvard’s class of 2018, a group of defensive stalwarts who have combined for 29 shutouts and 37 wins since the start of the 2014 season.
After Becker, Janachowski, and Stollar saw varying amounts of playing time as freshmen, Chagares joined their ranks as a sophomore during the 2015-16 season, and the four players have become a staple of the Crimson’s resilient midfield-backline ever since.
“All of them have really contributed immensely to the success of the program,” head coach Chris Hamblin said. “Marie and Candy have turned into high-level players…Dani came in [and won] Rookie of the Year…Caroline was injured for many parts of her career but [she was] a leader and a captain on and off the field.”
Put this alongside stellar goalkeeping performances like Etzel’s on Saturday, and one can understand how Saturday night’s game was a microcosm of the resolute defense that Harvard has played for years under the direction of the class of 2018.
“We’ve really been blessed to have those four on our program,” Hamblin said.
Off the field, too, the four seniors helped build a warm team culture that lifted the team’s spirits in both good and bad times. The Crimson didn’t win a championship in 2017, but the seniors will leave the squad in good position for the coming years, regardless.
Women's Soccer Draws With Brown, 1-1Playing in the first of three consecutive weekend away games against Ivy league opponents, the Harvard women’s soccer team found itself locked in a tight battle with Brown on Saturday afternoon in Providence, R.I.
Women's Soccer Tops Providence in Season OpenerThe impressive curl on the corner was all the Crimson (1-0-0) would need, as it closed out the game with its defense to notch its first win of the season, 1-0, over the Friars (0-3-0). The home victory marked the third win in the past four seasons for Harvard in the head-to-head series.
Staunch Defense Leads Women's Soccer to Two Wins
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