After compiling a 3-0 record on three road shutouts, the Harvard women's soccer team returned home to Ohiri Field yesterday afternoon and promptly suffered its first defeat of the season, a 1-0 overtime loss to Adelphi University.
The Panther goal, coming five minutes into the first overtime period, marked the first tally yielded this season by Crimson goalie Tracee Whitley.
For the booters, ranked eighth in the country, the loss to 18th-ranked Adelphi (now 6-1) came as a moderate upset--although not a serious blow to post-season tournament hopes.
For the visitors--whom Harvard trounced, 3-0, on their home turf last year--the victory touched off a major celebration.
"They ghouled us last year and we just wanted to play hard," Adelphi back Margie Varas said. "We were ranked nationally this time, which added an incentive. To beat a team ranked above us was a goal in itself."
But goals, of both the scoring and strategic type, proved elusive yesterday.
Through 90 minutes of regulation play, neither squad punched the ball home, although not for lack of effort.
Whitley (with eight saves on the afternoon) and Panther netminder Liz Sobczak (with 12) saw their share of flashing spikes. In fact, the game was halted late in the second half when Sobczak received a cleat in the face.
And after the clock ran out on the pair of non-sudden-death overtime periods, the squads had unleashed an identical number of shots on goal--13 apiece.
Unfortunately for Harvard (3-1), one of Adelphi's shots had hit the jackpot.
The Crimson's failure to capitalize on its own opportunities showcased the squad's weakness at sustaining full-field scoring drives.
Thus far, four of the booters' six goals have come as a result of corner kicks. That suggests, for the most part, that Harvard has been unable to coordinate a quick, potent attack capable of moving the ball from its own end into scoring range.
"We've just got to learn to play faster," Crimson Coach Bob Scalise said. "Adelphi is the most athletic team we've played so far--we've got to practice faster and play faster."
During the first half, however, with much of the play confined to the ends, nobody had much of a chance to exhibit speed.
First Harvard, then Adelphi, then Harvard again would hold the ball in one end and unleash a couple of shots before trekking downfield to take up defense.
In the second half, when the emphasis shifted to the midfield, the offensive pressure never let up.
And 95 minutes, six seconds after play began, the pot boiled over.
Adelphi forward Joan Foy--the Panthers' leading scorer with four goals on the season--lured Whitley out and chipped the ball in front of the net. Whitley dove forward and batted the ball away, but Denise Hawkins took the rebound and lined it high over the prone netminder.
Harvard attempted to retaliate in the remaining 15 minutes, but the Adelphi defense clamped down.
THE NOTEBOOK: The booters have until October 8 to recover from the loss--the team travels across the river to Boston College on that date...Alumnae Janet Judge and Joan Elliott were on hand to cheer on the team yesterday...Harvard held the edge in corner kicks over Adelphi, 7-2.
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