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An experimental new strategy to give the Harvard women's soccer team more offensive power didn't quite do the right stuff Saturday in Providence. The yield: a 2-1 overtime loss to a tenacious Providence Friars squad.
Although the Crimson's new 3-4-3 formation, which brings an extra defensive player up to midfield, did help the Crimson maintain consistent pressure on the Providence net, it didn't rake in the goals.
"The midfield, defensive and offensive players executed the plays as well as could be expected," senior Tara Weinstock said. "We just didn't capitalize on our opportunities."
The Friars saw opportunity knock loud and clear in the first five minutes of the game. With a gaping defensive hole, senior Crimson goalie Beth Reilly could only admire as the point-blank Friars shot from 16 yards out settled into the upper-right corner.
Moving right along, the Crimson proceeded to dictate, dominate and control the next 70 minutes. The entire offensive line played fast and furious, frustrated only in its inability to nab a tying goal. In her first collegiate game, freshman Laurie Uustal put away the only Crimson goal early in the second half. It wasn't a neat and tidy, Sports Illustrated cover-photo goal, but it did eliminate the deficit.
The Crimson controlled the fast pace and used its momentum to keep the ball on the Providence side of the field for most of the second half.
Over in the Crimson net, however, something was going awry. Reilly was yielding her goal kicks to the Crimson defenders. An old knee injury forced her to leave the game late in the second half in favor of freshman Brook Donahoe.
"I think it's from a staple in there from previous surgery," Reilly said. "It just started hurting in the second half, and I wasn't helping the team anymore."
Suddenly, the momentum switched. The Friars produced a goal out of a flurry in the Crimson penalty area early in overtime.
Harvard dominated no more.
"We had the first-game jitters," Weinstock said. "We went out in the beginning at 100 miles-per-hour, and we just ran out of steam towards the end."
"Providence was just as good as they needed to be," Reilly said. "They were a nagging team, pretty scrappy around the ball. They only generated about six scoring opportunities, but they scored on two of them."
THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson hosts New Hampshire tomorrow at Ohiri Field...Reilly is not expected to play in that contest, hoping to be ready for next weekend's California roadswing against Stanford and San Francisco.
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