In a battle of two defending conference champions, the Harvard women’s soccer team renewed its crosstown rivalry with Northeastern on Tuesday night. At Parsons Field in Brookline, Mass., the teams met for the first time since clashing in the NCAA tournament almost 10 years ago, in 2008.
The stakes were much lower this time around, but for two teams that are still in the process of replacing key members from successful squads a year ago, the early season matchup served as an important benchmark.
“We were looking forward to this game to see how far we are in bringing along some of the younger players,” Crimson coach Chris Hamblin said. “It was clear we still have work to do, but Northeastern showed us where we can aim to be in just a couple more games.”
The Huskies (4-1-0), who were playing in their fifth game of the season, marched to a 2-0 victory on the strength of attacking fluidity that Harvard (1-1-0) could not match. Northeastern outshot its opponents 11-4 in the first half and did not let up after intermission, gliding to the win.
Hannah Rosenblatt, a junior forward, and Kerri Zerfoss, a sophomore midfielder, led the charge for the Huskies with a combined seven shots. Zerfoss scored first in the 39th minute, burying a left-footed strike in stride after a well-weighted pass from freshman forward Chelsea Domond.
Rosenblatt then added the insurance goal in the 76th minute. The build-up was almost a mirror image of that of the first tally, with Rosenblatt scoring off a through ball on the right side of the box.
“They made great plays to take control of the game,” said Crimson senior defender and captain Marie Becker. “We need to keep our shape better on defense, and that’s something we’ll work on before this weekend.”
Harvard managed to keep Northeastern star midfielder Hannah Lopiccolo contained to an extent, but the senior leader of the Huskies and CAA Preseason Play of the Year helped her team control possession and the flow of the game. Lopiccolo also tallied three shots, one of which was on frame.
Meanwhile, the young attacking core for the Crimson continues to find its footing. Freshmen forwards Lauren Raimondo and Murphy Agnew managed only three shots in total, and the team as a whole put the ball on frame twice the entire game.
Raimondo came closest in the 22nd minute when she received a pass on the right side of the box with only the goalkeeper to beat. From a tight angle, however, her shot was easily saved.
“We’ve liked what we’ve seen from our younger players in practice,” Becker said. “They’re getting in good positions on the field, and it’s only a matter of time before we see some results in the games.”
This season, Harvard faces the challenge of replacing graduated senior Midge Purce. For four years, Purce sparked the Crimson offense, tallying 42 goals in 63 career games.
That productivity led to four appearences on the All-Ivy first team and two seasons as Player of the Year. In June, Purce became the first player in Harvard history to earn a spot at the camp of the U.S. women’s national team.
Dealing with the absence of such a star player lingers as an important storyline. And on Tuesday, Northeastern shut down any Crimson scoring attempts.
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