In any sport, it’s important for teams and individual players to dig for results even when they’re not playing their best.
The Harvard women’s soccer team found itself in this situation at Jordan Field on Wednesday afternoon, but thanks to the grit provided by its veterans and a couple of well-placed crosses, it still managed to earn an overtime win.
The Crimson defeated a hard-pressing Quinnipiac team on Wednesday afternoon, 2-1, taking just under five extra-time minutes to seal the victory, while the Bobcats (3-4) lost their third straight despite a competitive second half. Harvard improves to 5-2-0 on the season and now prepares for road trips to Villanova and Seton Hall this weekend.
“I think it was not our best performance this year, by probably a long way,” Crimson coach Chris Hamblin said. “[Quinnipiac] had a more physical approach, and we wanted to try and keep the ball moving away from them. I don’t think we did a good enough job of doing that.”
Despite the gameplay leaving something to be desired, Harvard came up big when it counted.
Senior midfielder Dani Stollar provided the game-winner, heading in the golden goal in the 95th minute over the outstretched hands of Quinnipiac goalie Devan Malcolm to seal the win for the Crimson. Freshman forward Murphy Agnew had a stellar game as well, chipping in two crosses that found teammates for scores.
Agnew’s two assists were the first of her career. Stollar’s goal was her first of this season, the fifth of her career, and her first since her four-goal freshman campaign.
“Credit the team,” Hamblin said. “You’re not always going to play your best soccer and you find a way to win.”
The Bobcat’s hard-pressing defense managed to disrupt Harvard’s timing in places, leading to uncomfortable play on the ball, but to its credit, the Crimson never let the strategy get under its skin to the point of giving up goals.
“It was a physical battle and we knew we had to step away from that kind of game,” senior co-captain Caroline Chagares said. “We definitely were not happy with how we played overall…we know we have to play better when we’re going into Ivy League play.”
Chagares provided Harvard with an early 1-0 lead, redirecting a cross from Agnew in the 31st minute to find the back of the net. The captain’s goal was the second of her career.
“We wanted to try to get wide because they were playing a lot of defenders,” Chagares said. “Murphy crossed the ball and I saw the back post was open.”
The lead stood past halftime, but the Bobcats struck back in the second half, scoring off the playmaking ability of junior forward Nadya Gill, who ran down the right side in the 64th minute and fizzed in a cross as she slid past the box. The ball found the foot of sophomore forward Ally Grunstein, who poked it into the back of the net to knot the game at one apiece.
The Crimson turned up the pressure in the final ten minutes of regulation but were not able to come away with the decider.
“We took the lead, and that settled us down a little bit, but [Quinnipiac] was always looking to counterattack,” Hamblin said. “We gained a little bit more momentum, but I don’t think it was good enough momentum—I don’t think it was quality as we have been demonstrating.”
On the other side of the pitch, sophomore goalie Kat Hess made three saves in 49:43 to finish out the game, which was started by junior goalie Danielle Etzel. Etzel recorded two saves. Hess got the win and is now 4-1 on the season.
Harvard took 16 shots on the game compared to Quinnipiac’s nine, but the Bobcats took more quality shots, recording six shots on goal, one more than the Crimson’s five. Junior forward Leah Mohammadi took two of those shots on goal.
Harvard is now 3-0 at home this year and hasn’t lost two in a row since September 7th, 2016, over a year ago. It also extended its series streak over the Bobcats to four in a row, having last defeated them in 2012.
—Staff writer Bryan Hu can be reached at email@example.com.
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