When the Harvard men's soccer team took on the University of Connecticut yesterday it was worse than when David matched up against Goliath. At least in the Biblical tale the underdog had weapon superiority: the Crimson were forced to fight with the reigning national collegiate champs for the same black and white ball. The final result was not unexpected the Huskies staying top dog with a 4-1 rout at the business School field.
Control is what UConn had through out the match. With their red, white and blue uniforms and chattering like a pair of joke teeth the Huskies looked like the Harlem Globetrotters of college soccer stringing together scores of passes before trying to penetrate Harvard's defense.
Under pressure for most of the first half the booters stayed from Coach Jape Shattuck's game plan of short simple passes and started hitting long balls from deep in the field. The style almost paid off 26 minutes into the match, when one of the deep cross found striker Lance Ayrault in the penalty box. A Huskie defender rode in Crimson captain off the ball, but the clearance landed to the feet of charging halfback Mike Mogollon. The mid fielder hit a hard shot that forced UConn goalie. Tony Pierce to the ground.
Mogollon took a corner kick moments later and freshman forward Lane Kenworthy nodded a header that Pierce only barely tipped over the crossbar.
But Harvard's zealousness on attack left them short in the back. On a quick counter attack by the Huskies the Crimson drew an obstruction foul in the penalty box. UConn forward Graziano Cornulo started a set play on the free kick nudging the ball to the left. Halfback Bill Morrone blasted a hard right footer that broke through Harvard's line of defenders and beat goalkeeper Matt Ginsburg off the right post at 30:45.
The Huskie goal only made the booters a little more anxious. "When you're seen a team pass the ball around 40 times," Shattuck explained, "you want to go out and buy a ball so you can play soccer too."
Ten seconds before the half the Huskies caught the Crimson pushed up for a second time. Midfielder Shawn Sullivan banged his way through three separate challenges and when he finally lost the ball it rolled to forward Matt Addington. The Huskie forward whacked a wicked 25-yarder with his right foot that burned into the Crimson twines.
In the second half Harvard settled into the strategy Shattuck designed possession by short first touch passes. "We looked like the dominating team for sports the first year head coach said. "But they were tiny little sports."
The booters more controlled play never really paid off. "They defended very hard," explained Shattuck. With 18-44 left in the match, UConn's leading score F.J. Raferty used some nifty moves to get past Mogollon and Leo Lanzillo and sent a low cross toward the Harvard goal. Addington cut across the gaolmouth and flicked in his second tally of the day.
The Huskies got a little more icing at 76:46, with Jeff Dunn scoring on a 20 yard shot that careened off the right post.
Harvard got its only goal of the match when freshman halfback Ian Hardington converted a penalty kick with 7:22 left.
Hardington was one of five freshmen Shattuck selected for the starting lineup. "I picked the team I thought would do best against UConn," Shattuck said. He added that the younger players "had fallen into the trap of getting overanxious" against the Huskies deliberate style of play.
The loss leaves Harvard with a 1-3 0 season mark, but the damage is not as great as the record indicates. The Crimson's Ivy League mark is only 0-1-0 and tough matches against opponents like UConn should help when the meat of the Ivy schedule rolls in.
Next in line for Harvard is a night game at Boston College tomorrow. The Eagles came away with a 1-1 draw against the Huskies a few weeks ago and look to be the classroom of the Greater Boston League.
In preparation for the match on the tiny astro-turf field at the Heights the booters will practice for an hour in the newly renovated Briggs Cage. Shattuck said the key will be rhythm in passing. "BC is hard almost violent on defense," he said. "We'll need to be quick in getting rid of the ball.