Missing two of their top forwards for most of a game against Boston University (B.U). New England's second-ranked team, the Harvard men's soccer team might have been expected to wilt yesterday at the Business School.
It did not. In fact, only after 107 minutes did the Terriers finally manage to pull out in front of the Crimson and capture a nail-biting overtime victory, 1-0.
B.U.'s John Primiano set up the deciding tally, dropping in a looping 30-yd. pass behind the right side of the Crimson defense. Mike Pilger pounced on the ball and put it over Crimson keeper Billy Blood into the far corner of the net. Poetic justice would have given Harvard the win, as it bounced back from a 3-0 Friday setback against Brown to play controlled, hustling soccer. The four fullbacks, in particular, recaptured their form and kept the Terrier attack at barking distance from goalie Blood for most of the game.
Sweeper Peter Sergienko and central defender John Duggan kept B.U. at bay both on the ground and in the air. Duggan repeatedly cut off Terrier throw-ins and long passes with snapping headers back toward mid-field.
Meanwhile, left fullback and captain John Sanacore stalled B.U. attacks on the left side of the Crimson defense, then--dribbling with the skill of a forward--moved the ball into Terrier territiory to bolster the inexperienced front line.
With Mauro Keller-Sarmiento out for the second straight game and Mike Mogollan sitting on the bench for the first 85 minutes with a strained groin muscle, that line could not generate the one goal Harvard needed.
Playing two J.V.'s to fill up the forward spots left open by Keller-Sarmiento and-Mogollan for most of the game. Harvard used forward combinations that had never played together. As a result, the Crimson's attacks lacked rhythm, as players misread each other on give-and go's and leading passes.
Still, Harvard created opportunities, and onlookers could only wonder what might have been with the Crimson at full strength. With 20 minutes left in the first half. Dave Eaton volleyed toward the goal an Alberto Villar crosspass only to watch B.U. keeper Howie Friedman make a fine reflex save to knock the ball over the top of the net.
In the second half the seemingly tireless Villar came off the bench to spark the Crimson attack again. Sprinting back to cover on defense, then racing down the wing to collect passes and center the ball. Villar kept Crimson hopes alive.
With 13:50 left, Harvard seemed to have jumped in front on a miraculous Walter Diaz turn-around shot from 50 feet that appeared to loop over Friedman into the back of the goal. No such luck. The ball instead, landed on top of the netting behind the goal-line.
During both halves B.U. only troubled Blood occasionally. When it did, he handled the pressure with ease. In the first half, he made a diving grab of a Primiano free kick look simple.
In the second half, Blood did need a little help from the goal frame as a Mike Pilger shot ricocheted off the cross-bar then back into Blood's grateful arms.
Two minutes into the second ten-minute overtime period, as darkness descended, B.U. finally moved ahead. Even then Harvard did not fold, as Mike Mogollan, courageously playing despite his injury, pumped renewed vigor into the Harvard attack.
With 40 seconds left on the clock, Harvard had its last chance, a free kick just outside the B.U. penalty box. John Sanacore sent a booming, curving shot toward the top left-hand corner of the net. A diving Friedman blocked the ball, thwarting Harvard, preserving his shut-out, and securing the Terriers' win.