The Harvard women's soccer team took three early strikes and an out against Stanford last Saturday, but sparked enough firepower to blast San Francisco the next day.
A barrage of three early goals in a 9:28 span against Stanford jolted the Crimson with a ringing wake-up call. Harvard pressured Stanford in the second half with crisp passing, yielding only one goal to the highly regarded Cardinal in the final 70 minutes for a 4-0 final margin. The revived Crimson (1-2-1 overall) then charged into the San Francisco match, ready for battle, and emerged with a 3-1 triumph.
"If we were more consistent, we'd have much better results," forward Robin Johnston said. "We definitely dominated Stanford in the first 10 minutes, but then they scored and added two quick goals. But we generated more offense in the second half and stayed with them. When we played at the same caliber against USF, we totally dominated."
And with a vengeance. Even Erin Matias--performing with a cast over the broken nose she suffered in the Stanford contest--sensed the sweet smell of victory. She knocked heads in the Crimson backfield until she took yet another blow to the nose, forcing her to quit.
"She had on this mask that made her look like Jason," sweeper Tory Fair said.
"Erin's a trooper," Johnston added. "What can you say?"
Harvard struck early against the Dons. Midfielder Sharon Olken looped a corner kick from the right side to the far post of the goal box. Just four minutes into the contest, Fair raced through a defensive opening and headed the cross past San Francisco goalie Gillian Blackburn to tally Harvard's first goal of the weekend.
The Big Mo
Momentum surging, Johnston could have weaved a rug through the San Francisco defense. She slalomed her way through three defenders in the penalty area before being tugged down by a fourth. Johnston nailed her penalty kick at the 34:14 mark of the first half to bolster Harvard's lead, 2-0.
"We worked a lot better [versus San Francisco]," Olken said. "In the Stanford game, we played laterally across the field, and we were unable to penetrate passes into the box. In the USF game, the halfbacks moved forward. The forwards were playing faster, and the offense worked quicker than against Stanford. We weren't able to make quick transitions."
But San Francisco was. With only 4:58 elapsed in the second half, substitute Sue Maximovitch converted a crossing pass from the right corner past Harvard netminder Brook Donahoe to narrow the Crimson's lead to 2-1.
Harvard played as if it could care less. Exploiting Wheaton's midfield-intensive 3-4-3 formation, the Crimson solidified its lead, resting its play on strong midfield ball control between Flynn, Weinstock and Olken who dished give-and-go's and through balls downfield to Johnston and Nicole Parent.
With a minute to play, Fair settled a ball at midfield and found a streaking Laurie Uustal, who raced past a straggling defense and beat Black-burn to provide the final margin of victory.