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On a day of milestones, the ball bounced Harvard's way as the men's soccer team rallied past Brown, 2-1, in its season finale at Ohiri Field. A freshman scored his first collegiate goal and a coach ended a 38-year career.
A little luck, a lot of determination, and some phenomenal goaltending all figured in the Crimson (6-7-1 overall, 3-4 Ivy) victory.
With 1:30 showing on the clock, freshman Ping Li took a pass from Juan Betancourt in the corner. Li, standing at the top right corner of the box, took the pass and left a Brown defender aghast while he spun free. One on one with O'Connell, Li buried the ball in the top left corner of the Bruins net.
"It felt really good," Li said of his first Crimson goal. "I usually play defense but [Getman] decided to put me in for Joe Bradley and it worked."
Li's goal spoiled Brown Coach Cliff Stevenson's bid for his 300th career victory in his final game.
Just three minutes into the contest, the Bruins got on the board. A long throw-in got past the Harvard defense and connected with Brown midfielder Mark Graycar who tucked it in behind Crimson keeper Jamie Reilly.
That was the only blunder Reilly would make. The junior netminder chalked up 11 saves on the day, scrambling to thwart a fiesty Bruin attack.
"There were a lot of dangerous situations out front," Harvard Coach Mike Getman said. "A good part of this win was [Reilly's] work in goal for us."
The first half ended with Harvard unable to take advantage of its few shots and concentrating on beating Brown off the ball.
Three-and-a-half minutes into the second period, Harvard posted the tying score. With room out in front of the Bruin cage, Lenny Ilkanoff crossed the ball and Jason Luzak converted with a header past Brown goalie Dan O'Connell.
The Crimson had momentum and Reilly was not going to let it slip away. The Bruins would not roll over, forcing Reilly to take to the ground and the air to thwart the showering attack.
For most of the remainder of the second half, the play was up and down the length of the field with neither team able to put it away.
After Li's goal gave Harvard the lead, Brown didn't die. In the final 55 seconds the Bruins had two corner kicks and two penalty shots. Twice, the ball deflected off the post when it came out of a mob scuffing in front of the Harvard net.
"With the way we played, we deserved to win, but it's goals that count," Stevenson said. "I just wanted us to play well and we did. I'm frustrated, though, because the ball just wouldn't go in for us."
Stevenson wasn't the only one finishing out a career. Harvard Captain John Shue donned the Crimson jersey for the final time.
"One of the most pleasing parts of this season was the leadership of John Shue," Getman said. "His perfomance game-in and game-out and his attitude could not have been better. Every single game we've played, he's been the best player on the field."
Crimson, 2-1 at Ohiri Field Brown 1-0--1 HARVARD 0-2--2
Goals: B, Mark Graycar (unassisted) 2:41; H, Jason Luzak (Lenny llkhanoff) 48:35; H, Ping Li (Juan Betancourt) 88:30.
Saves: B, Dan O'Connell 3; H, Jamie Reilly 11.
Corner Kicks: Brown 8; Harvard 5.
Shots: Brown 19, Harvard 15.
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