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HANOVER, N.H.--With 12:41 left in Saturday's Harvard-Dartmouth soccer game. Big Green midfielder Brian Hitch-cock broke a 1-1 deadlock with his second goal of the afternoon.
Four minutes later, as the Crimson booters grew desperate for a goal, the skies grew dark.
As if God were indicating to Harvard that its Ivy title hopes had been smashed in these unfriendly confines, dark clouds rolled ominously over the field.
Then, to make His point completely clear to the still inspired Crimson squad, He made it rain. For eight minutes, it poured on the Harvard soccer team, washing away an impressive ball-control offense, and flooding chances for a conference title.
With the 2-1 loss, the Harvard record drops to 6-3, 1-2 in the Ivy League.
The wet, quick-playing field should have been a boon to the Crimson eleven, which in recent contests has perfected a maneuverable offense based on pinpoint passing and individual speed.
Even without the services of standout forward Mauro Keller-Sarmiento, who was kept away for personal matters, the Crimson offense functioned well, and kept pressure on Dartmouth goalie Andy Krahling.
Crimson coach George Ford armed his squad with a potent 4-3-3 line-up, an alignment which he has been using with increasing frequency in recent matches. Saturday, he switched from the usual 4-4-2 in an effort to offset the absence of Keller-Sarmiento, and put Steve Higginson at right forward, Mauro's usual stomping ground.
Lance Ayrault on the right and captain Mike Smith at center forward teamed with Higginson to outshoot their Dartmouth counterparts 2-1, but some impressive play in goal by Krahling kept all but one from the twines.
For his part, Crimson netminder Peter Walsh looked impressive. Backed up by some outstanding play by the Harvard fullbacks, particularly Peter Sergienko and Deniz Perese, Walsh made several key saves. Of the two Dartmouth tallies, only the first beat the Crimson goalie clearly.
That goal was a real beauty--from the Dartmouth perspective. Trailed closely by Crimson fullback Don Rung, Big Green forward Dave Hartzell streaked 60 yards down the right sideline, but seemed unable to get a centering pass toward the goal.
At the six yard mark, Hartzell engaged in a brief scramble for the ball with a couple of Harvard defenders. Somehow he emerged from the crowd and sent a perfectly placed pass over to Hitchcock, who responded by heading the sphere into the upper left corner of the net.
The half ended with the Crimson controlling the play, but not the score. The second half opened with the Crimson playing sluggishly. The less-skilled Dartmouth squad didn't respond to the opportunities, however, and the agressive Harvard team soon got back on track.
At 32:14, the pressure paid off, with Correia notching a goal to tie the score. Stationed on the right side of the net, "Giorgio" picked up a deflected Smith shot, and dumped it over the line for the first goal of his varsity career.
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