Staunch Defense Leads Women's Soccer to Two Wins

Ali is the Greatest
Forward Ali Wiggins readies a throw-in. The Crimson offense combined for two goals over the weekend but secured two wins.

Following last Tuesday’s shutout loss to Northeastern, the Harvard women’s soccer team came back with a vengeance, posting twin 1-0 wins this Labor Day Weekend. With the pair of victories, the Crimson (3-1-0) left New Britain, Conn. with the CCSU Tournament crown ahead of three other teams.

Freshman forward Murphy Agnew was the star in Friday night’s opener against host Central Connecticut State, scoring her first career goal in the 69th minute past junior netminder Ashley Cavanaugh. Sophomore goalie Kat Hess, meanwhile, kept the Blue Devils off the board for 90 minutes—her first career solo shutout—to preserve the 1-0 scoreline.

Two days later, in Sunday’s day game against St. John’s, junior midfielder Leah Mohammadi punched home the golden goal in double overtime to give Harvard its second 1-0 victory of the weekend. Fellow veteran Dani Stollar provided the game-winning cross in the 105th minute.

“We knew we’d have to play Friday and Sunday, which we haven’t done all year, with one day’s rest,” Crimson coach Chris Hamblin said. “It was a new challenge in multiple ways for us, but I was really proud of how we responded.”

HARVARD 1, ST. JOHN’S 0 (2OT)

Harvard’s second match of the first-ever CCSU tournament was the title-decider, and it took double overtime for the Crimson to squeak by a stout St John’s (3-1-1) team. After nearly 105 minutes of scoreless play, Mohammadi poked in a cross from Stollar into the lower left corner of the net, and the Harvard bench was quick to explode in celebration.

“We kept attacking and attacking and finally we had our opportunity,” Hess said of the marathon victory. “We all banded together and sprinted out onto the field together—one of the best celebrations I’ve ever had.”

Mohammadi’s goal was her second game-winner of this young season—she also provided all of the Crimson’s scoring in its 1-0 season-opening win over Providence. An important contributor to last year’s Ivy-winning squad, the veteran has already matched her goal total from last year (two) just four games into the 2017 season.

Junior netminder Danielle Etzel also tallied her first career solo shutout, making three saves in 104:57. She benefitted from a staunch Harvard defense, which laid claim to its third of the field and never conceded a corner kick.

The combination of positional control and sturdy last-line defense completely shut down a Red Storm offense that had powered St John’s to a three-game winning streak prior to encountering the Crimson.

Mohammadi took it upon herself to keep the pressure on the Red Storm, recording a team-high five shots, while Stollar and freshmen Sammy Murrell and Lauren Raimondo each tallied one apiece. Mohammadi, Stollar, and the rest of the upperclassmen will look to synergize even further with the freshmen as the season progresses.

Given that both Harvard and St. John’s were winners on day one, the Crimson’s victory guaranteed it the tournament crown.

HARVARD 1, CCSU 0

Harvard has had CCSU’s number as of late, including a 3-0 win last season. A visit to the Blue Devils’ home turf didn’t lessen the Crimson’s typically strong play.

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