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The Harvard men's soccer team made kittens out of the UNH Wildcats yesterday at Ohiri Field.
Although a 2-1 victory wouldn't normally qualify as a taming, Harvard (2-2-0 overall, 0-2-0 Ivy) dominated the contest in terms of ball control.
"Two-one wasn't the real score," said junior Alex Estevez, who scored the winning goal. "We really killed them."
The game opened up with the Wildcats looking worthy of their recent win over Hartford. A minute-and-a-half into the match, the Wildcats shot a foot wide of the Crimson net. But play settled down after the early threat, as both defenses squelched their opponents' opportunities. Harvard goalie Jamie Reilly repeatedly distributed good lead passes, but the Crimson couldn't capitalize.
Reilly gave his teammates a shot in the arm with a diving save late in the opening period, but the Crimson's subsequent rush upfield yielded only near-misses in front of the UNH net. Junior back Don Daigle, who had just received a yellow card for misconduct, had one header barely deflected by a sprawling John Leader, the Wildcat keeper.
Minutes later, Harvard Coach Mike Getman substituted junior Lenny Ikhanoff for sophomore David Vaughn to try once more to spark the Crimson. The move paid off. After Estevez barely missed paydirt on a header over the net and a kick off the post, Harvard finally connected with 2:51 left in the half.
Jason Luzak opened up the opportunity with ascorching shot off Leader's chest. The balldeflected out front, where Ikhanoff put it awayfor the 1-0 lead. The score prompted the juniormidfielder to drop to the ground and exclaim thatit was his first goal in a Harvard uniform.
"Lenny's a good player we knew we could counton," Getman said. "He scored at a very nice time.We had been knocking on the door and we neededsomeone to open it."
Thanks to a leaping Reilly save, the half endedwith Harvard on top with the lone goal.
The second session began with the Crimsoncontrolling the ball and quickly finding the net.Juan Betan-court's tally was erased by a hand ballcall, but, needless to say, Harvard was notdeterred. Less than four minutes later, Estevezacrobatically drilled the ball into the left sideof the net while stepping over a pesky defender.The goal put the Crimson up, 2-0, dashing Wildcathopes.
"Brian [Enge] said that I wasn't leaving thefield till I scored and I did," Estevez said. "Ouroffense was so much better. We made changes andplayed more agressively up front."
After the Estevez goal, Harvard didn't let up.The team forced Leader to get a little dirtierbefore he was through. The Crimson put a few morequality shots on the UNH net before switching to astalling strategy, hoping to squander the clockwith long cross-field passes.
Sad But True
"The difference was that Harvard had strengthand composure," UNH Coach Scott True said. "Ourguys lacked intensity in the first half. Ourtransition to offense was lax and our defensedidn't lunge enough."
The Wildcats were able to lunge just enough atthe end of the game to put one past Reilly. With4:53 remaining, Wildcat Smitty Peck touched arebounded shot and watched it trickle past anadvancing Reilly.
"It was a good win for us, but we weredefinitely the better team," said Harvard CaptainJohn Shue, who suffered a gash in the back of hishead early in the first half when he went up for aheader and knocked crania with a Wildcat. "They'rea team that can make you pay for your mistakes."
As usual, the oft-bloodied Shue played the restof the game before heading for a doctor'sexamination. He should be good to go for theCrimson's Saturday faceoff with Hartford, whichhas to make Getman happy. But the fourth-yearcoach wasn't all smiles.
"I was disapointed with the goal at the end,"Getman said. "It just shows us that we have thingsto work on and things to improve."
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