Two Ivy League men’s soccer teams face a different kind of competitor this weekend: the Haiti National Team.
The 99th-ranked team in the world, the Haitian squad has a proud soccer tradition, especially for a country of its size. The champion of the 2007 Caribbean Nations Cup, Haiti qualified for the World Cup in 1974, though it failed to make it past the first round.
As of late, however, the team’s ranking has plummeted, thanks in part to the 2010 earthquake in which at least 30 people involved with Haiti soccer were killed. In fact, from its peak FIFA ranking of 66 in November of 2007, Haiti has fallen 33 spots.
And so the still-recovering soccer program made the nearly 2000-mile trek to Hanover, N.H., to meet up with the Big Green on Friday night at the Burnham Field. In a close contest, Haiti barely sneaked away with the win, capitalizing on a second-half goal on a penalty kick to take the 2-1 victory.
Next up for Haiti is a trip down south to Cambridge to face the Crimson tomorrow. Thanks in large part to the large Haitian community in Boston, the stands should be pretty full.
In addition to the strength of its adversary, Harvard will have to deal with another hurdle: rust. The Crimson hasn’t played in a competitive match since November of last year.