Last season, the only thing separating the Harvard men’s soccer team from the NCAA Tournament was Penn. But with a 2-0 win over the Crimson in the season finale, it was the Quakers who captured the Ivy League crown as well as an automatic tournament bid.
After a year of waiting, Harvard (11-4-2, 4-1-2 Ivy) finally earned its revenge on Saturday. Behind an 89th minute goal from freshman forward Christian Sady, the Crimson picked up its first victory over Penn since 2010.
But despite closing the season with a win, Harvard found itself on the outside looking in when the 48-team tournament field was announced by the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Committee Monday.
After recording its best record since 2009, the Crimson held an outside chance of making the field, but according to Harvard coach Pieter Lehrer, the team had tempered its expectations.
The Crimson had entered the weekend trailing Dartmouth and Princeton by two points in the Ivy League standings, needing a win and losses from both rivals to earn an automatic bid. Otherwise, Harvard—ranked no. 55 in RPI—faced a steep hill to obtain an at-large bid.
In the end, the chips would not fall into place, as both the Big Green (11-4-2, 5-1-1) and the Tigers (11-3-3, 5-1-1) picked up wins in their final games. Meanwhile, Harvard fell to no. 59 in RPI.
By virtue of a 2-1 win over Princeton in October, Dartmouth—ranked no. 27 in RPI—received the automatic bid from the Ancient Eight. The Big Green takes on Fordham in the opening round Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Tigers join the Crimson on the outside of the field, having narrowly missed the cut. Princeton finished the season ranked no. 41 in RPI, but with several teams lower in the rankings receiving automatic bids for winning their conferences, the Tigers were out of luck.
Harvard played to a 0-1-1 record against the co-Ivy League champions.
The Crimson tied Dartmouth when the two sides clashed three weeks ago in Hanover, as senior midfielder Kyle Henderson found the back of the net on the team’s only shot of the contest.
Harvard was not as fortunate on the road against Princeton, however. Despite mounting a comeback late in the game, the Crimson could not climb out of an early three-goal hole, falling to the Tigers, 3-2.
The loss would be the only one that Harvard would endure in conference play, but it proved to make all the difference in the standings—backing up a claim made by junior defenseman Philip Fleischman back in October.
“Every game in the Ivy League is like a single elimination tournament,” Fleishman said.
Appears that way.
After scoring three goals in sixteen minutes to take out Northeastern on Tuesday, the Harvard men’s soccer team (4-3-0) is riding high. The Crimson has scored 10 goals in four games heading into its game against UMass (1-5-0) on Friday, looking to take out its third in-state rival in less than two weeks. The Back Page previews the matchup below.
It’s a big time of year for pro sports, with Super Bowl XLVIII just around the corner. The Back Page takes a look at a trio of former Harvard athletes now playing professionally, starting with a product of football coach Tim Murphy’s high-flying offense.
The Improving Draftee: Kyle Juszczyk ‘13
Mouthful of a name aside, Juszczyk had the NFL in his blood even before he was drafted – his great uncle, Dickie Moore, played for the Green Bay Packers. After a long and successful career for the Crimson, it was no surprise when the Baltimore Ravens took the 6’1” Juszczyk in the fourth round of the NFL draft.
Here's this week's Quotes of the Week, the five best quotes from some of the five best sports moments of the weekend.
With fall sports teams looking to make a charge in the last part of the season and winter sports picking up action, this weekend is full of events for Harvard sports fans. Check out some of these home contests to cheer on the Crimson.
Football vs. Princeton: October 26, 1 PM
With an undefeated record to uphold, it is all on the line for the 5-0 Crimson as they take on the Tigers. Princeton and Harvard both head into this game undefeated by the Ivies, making Saturday’s game a battle for first place standing in the league.
Men’s Hockey vs. Bentley: October 26, 7:30 PM
The Crimson kicks off its season this weekend, taking on the Bentley Falcons on Saturday night at home. After graduating a class of six seniors this past year, including MVP Danny Biega, this season’s Harvard squad looks to adjust to the change in lineup.
Women’s Hockey v. Quinnipiac: October 25, 7 PM
Harvard women’s hockey starts out competition play with a match against fellow top-ten team Quinnipiac at home Friday night. This marks the first game the Crimson will play with junior captain Marissa Gedmen back on the ice after an injury last year. Additionally, this will be the first game the Crimson play without head coach Katey Stone in almost 18 years.
Women’s Soccer v. Princeton: October 26, 7 PM
As the Crimson fights to maintain its Ivy League winning streak, Princeton will scramble to notch its first victory in the conference. A loss in this game would mean losing first place Ivy ranking for Harvard, as well as ruining the Crimson’s longest winning streak since 2011.
Men’s Soccer v. Princeton: October 26, 4 PM
The Crimson will look to expand its recent two game Ivy League winning streak as it faces Princeton at Soldier’s Field this weekend. To do this, the Harvard squad will have to bounce back from the devastating loss to Boston College this past Tuesday.