Led by the crushing tackles and forward dashes of Ivy League Player of the Week Lorenzo DiBonaventura, the rejuvenated Harvard men's soccer team slipped past powerful Princeton, 2-0, Saturday at the Business School Field, to capture its fourth straight win.
Harvard moved in front with a freak goal after only one minute and 31 seconds of the first half. Tiger fullback Scott Messel leapt into the air to try and clear a corner kick with his head, only to have the ball deflect off his airborne right leg into the corner of his own goal. The referee credited Harvard's Mike Mogollan with the score.
Princeton refused to be deflated by the early setback and pressured the Harvard backs for much of the remainder of the half. Only in the second 45 minutes, after Michael Smith moved back to center half from the right side to replace Frank RiCapito, did the Crimson gain control of midfield and look likely to preserve or increase its lead.
DiBonaventura played a particularly critical role in the first half. As the Harvard halfbacks had trouble moving the ball past mid-field, DiBonaventura repeatedly intercepted the ball and charged forward to give goalie Billy Blood a chance to breathe.
The right side of the Tiger 11--fullback Lasse Brautaset, John Bowen and Touraj Touran--troubled Harvard the most. Brautaset played like a halfback much of the time, sending short passes to Bowen or dribbling clear before sending long balls down the wings. With ten minutes gone, the highly skilled Bowen made a pretty, right-footed dab of a bouncing ball over Peter Sergienko's head before racing down the wing and centering. He and Touran repeatedly worked the ball towards the middle of the field near the Crimson penalty box. Their eforts, however, came to nought.
Princeton forward Robert Bradley squandered the Tigers' best chances. Mid-way through the first half, John's brother, James Bowen, dribbled through the last two Crimson defenders and drew Blood towards him only to see Bradley boot a field goal over the empty net.
Later in the half, Bradley, racing across the goal, could only touch a ball which lay at the end of Blood's groping fingertips six feet from the line.
Harvard had one golden opportunity, besides its goal, in the first half. Mauro Keller-Sarmiento danced a la George Best around left fullback Charles Stillitano and goalie James Brickell but sent his right-footed shot over the cross-bar.
In the second half, as against Dartmouth, Harvard played some of its best soccer of the season. Smith and Andy Kronfeld helped DiBonaventura feed the attack while Keller-Sarmiento and Mike Mogollan--reading each other almost telepathically--gave the Tiger backs fits.
The score became 2-0 with 25:02 remaining on the clock as Harvard tallied a goal that might have been called "While Tigers Sleep." John Sanacore took a free kick from the left-wing and an apparently unmarked Michael Smith raced towards the far post to direct a beautiful diving header just inside the post.
Harvard continued to pressure after the goal. The score almost became 3-0 with 11 minutes remaining as Keller-Sarmiento again side-stepped Brickell but sent a tough angle shot wide of the unoccupied goal.
Flaring tempers marred the end of the game as the Tigers became frustrated by the score and several calls that made the referees appear orange-crimson colorblind. Having failed to contain the physical second-half play before it caused problems, the referees awarded the Tigers three yellow cards in an attempt to regain control.
A fight almost erupted in the last two minutes as a discussion between Harvard forward Dave Eaton ended with a Brickell upper-cut to Eaton's jaw. The referees, true to form, did not see the punch.
Fortunately, the refs' sight difficulties had nothing to do with the final result. What coach George Ford termed his team's "quicker, more direct" attack had earned its fourth straight victory.