PRINCETON, N.J.--When the Harvard men's soccer team stepped onto the field last night against Princeton in New Jersey, it had not lost a game in the Ivy League, and it led all teams in the Ancient Eight.
When it stepped off, both of those distinctions were gone.
Harvard lost the contest 3-1, as Princeton controlled the action and made the Crimson victims of its effective counterattack.
Last night's loss cost Harvard (5-4-1 overall, 2-1-1 Ivy) its Ivy League lead. Princeton, Dartmouth, and even Columbia now jump ahead of the Crimson in the race for the Ancient Eight title.
"We were particularly sloppy on a few decisions in the back," Harvard Coach Steve Locker said. "Those decisions and mental mistakes cost you games."
Princeton struck first at 21:27 when last year's Ivy League Rookie of The Year, Mike Busch crossed to Tiger midfielder Thad McBride. McBride bounced the header past Harvard goalkeeper Scott Salisbury.
"Once [Salisbury] gets upset, he plays harder," Harvard Coach Steve Locker said.
The Harvard netminder would need that edge because the Crimson's offense was inconsistent. In its efforts to stop the Tigers' ball movement, the Harvard appeared too patient.
"We're not getting enough work out of our central midfielders," Locker said.
Hocher Causes Problems
But Harvard's real problems last night came in the form of Tiger forward David Hocher.
Hocher, the Ivy League's leading goal scorer in 1990, missed the last four games with an injury, but returned just in time to beat the Crimson with two goals in the second half.
Princeton junior Wally Cheng created the first of Hocher's goals just 54 seconds into the second period by beating Harvard's Tom Marcotullio. Cheng then left a perfect ball for Hocher to score.
The senior forward's second tally was the result of a strong Tiger push following a Harvard corner kick that didn't work.
Harvard's only score came with 15 minutes to play. Desperate for some offense, the Crimson pressured the Tigers until freshman forward Chris Wojick boomed a nifty pass past Princeton goalkeeper Rob Pawloski for his fourth goal of the season.
But this tally at 77:28 would be the only bright spot for the Crimson, as Princeton used its ball-control style to kill time and hold on to the victory.
The Crimson does not get much time to recover from the loss. Harvard travels to Pennsylvania Sunday to take on the Quakers.
If Harvard is to reamain a contender for the Ancient Eight title, it must win the rest of its Ivy games.
PRINCETON, 3-1 at Princeton, N.J. Princeton 1 2 -- 3 Harvard 0 1 -- 1
G: Princeton--Hocher (2), McBride; Harvard--Wojick. A: Princeton--Cheng, Theiman; Harvard--Luzak. S: Princeton--Pawloski (4); Harvard--Salisbury (7).