The University of Connecticut women's soccer team will be seeing Crimson for a long time after the leaves fall from the trees in the hills of Storrs, Conn.
Harvard avenged last year's frustrating loss to UConn by tying the nation's sixth-ranked team, 1-1, yesterday at Ohiri Field.
A never-say-die Harvard squad, fired up after falling behind midway through the first half, rallied to knot the Huskies (now 8-3-2).
Freshman Ann Kletz capped off a sparkling performance with her first goal of the season, sliding a low nailbiter past UConn goalie Bonnie Mitchell and sending the Crimson into overtime.
Yesterday's contest marked the second straight tie for the 15th-ranked Crimson, and it boosted the booters' record to 6-0-2 (1-0-1 Ivies).
Missing starting wingback Amanda Slick, an injury-ridden Crimson squad took on the Huskies in a physical game highlighed by controlled ball-handling and passing combinations. UConn--using a strategy that the Crimson has fallen prey to in the past--began to spread out the Harvard defense with patient ball-movement and give-and-go passing.
Following 20 minutes of back-and-forth play, UConn freshman forward Angela Gibbons connected for the first goal scored against the Crimson this season at the 25:15 mark of the first frame.
Staring into a bright afternoon sun, Harvard goalie Tracee Whitley deflected a rocket off the foot of a Husky midfielder from the left corner of the penalty area. UConn's Gibbons was at the top of the goalie box to run through the rebound and slam it home.
History was beginning to repeat itself.
"We came out in the first half a little sluggish and flat, and they took it to us," Harvard Coach Tim Wheaton said. "It can be a big psychological blow when you give up your first goal of the season, but we didn't give up."
"At halftime we talked about running through the ball," Wheaton continued. "We came out and started winning the balls we had been losing. We controlled the ball in the second half, and we kept it in their end. We kept pushing, and we tied it."
In the second half, Harvard answered the Husky challenge with intensified pressure and renewed momentum. After 29 minutes of inspired team play, Kletz capitalized on a Husky mistrap and caught UConn's Mitchell off her mark with an instep drive to the left corner of the net.
"It's about time," junior forward Amy Winston said. "This is the best offensive effort we've had in three or four games. It was 100 percent hustle."
The Crimson and the Huskies both had chances in the ensuing 30 minutes of overtime play, but neither team was able to put the ball in the net.
It was an important tie for Harvard, because the NCAA selection committee chooses only two or three teams from each region, and the Crimson's Eastern conference is one of the most competitive regions in the nation.
Wheaton feels that "tying a team like UConn makes it easier for them [the NCAA committee] to take us. Of course we have to play well the rest of the year."
Games fall like autumn leaves--one at a time. And the Harvard women's soccer team is raking in quite a few this year.
THE NOTEBOOK: Harvard's Lori Barry, Cari Lyn Beck and Jen Gifford were forced to leave the field because of injuries, but all are expected to be ready for this weekend...Slick is scheduled for an arthroscope today to determine the extent of her knee injury...The Crimson defense successfully shut down Britton Arico, UConn's leading scorer...The Crimson meets Dartmouth's Big Green in an Ivy grudge match Saturday at 11 a.m. at Ohiri Field.
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