It was an odd scenario for an Ivy League game: Win and continue on to the ECAC tournament. Lose and enjoy a lot of time to catch up on homework. Seldom does the long arm of postseason play reach the Ancient Eight, and even more rare is the do-or-die game.
But the Harvard women's soccer team's contest with Brown in Providence Saturday had it all, with the winner playing Boston College at home tomorrow. And the Harvard women's soccer team now has a lot of time to catch up on its homework--but not for a lack of theatrics.
Harvard goalie Brooke Donahoe stopped a Brown penalty kick with two minutes to go to force overtime, but Brown forward Holly Hargroder scored twice to lead the Bears to a 3-1 overtime victory over the Crimson.
"It's sad the season's over," junior forward Libby Eynon said. "I just assumed we were going to win. It happened so fast. If we had won, we would have definitely gone to the ECAC tournament."
Harvard scored its only goal late in the second half. Down 1-0, freshman Meg Kassakian played a corner kick into Eynon in front of the goal. Eynon flicked the ball to junior Sara Simmons on the other side of the goal and Simmons tapped the ball in for the tie.
With two minutes to go, Brown was awarded a penalty kick. The kick was low and to Donahoe's right, but the senior goalie dove and stopped the kick.
"We were down in the first half but dominated the second half," Kassakian said. "We got that stop, then we did well in the overtime. But when they scored in the overtime, we kind of gave up a little bit."
It rained Friday night and the condition of the field was treacherous at best, players said. Both of Brown's goals come on long shots that Donahoe couln't get to because of poor footing.
While Harvard slipped and slid around the field, Brown played the home filed advantage for all it could.
"The biggest factor was the field," Kassakian said. "It felt like we were running in...well, it was just so muddy. If you fell in it, your knee would go two feet under.
"We didn't adjust to it as well as they did...they were more used to it," she added.
The mud favored Brown's offensive scheme, which featured a duo of speedy attackers able to outrun the Crimson defenders through the muck for several scoring opportunities.
The mud also led to increased physical play as teams started to make up for lost maneuverability. Both a Brown player and Harvard junior Genevieve Chelius were awarded a yellow card in the first half, Kassakian said.
"I just remember her punching someone in the arm," she laughed. "We're not too proud of it. They just had really quick forwards out there. They talked dirty, too, but it was just a good physical game."
"The refs let a lot of stuff go," Eynon added.
Brown scored its first goal early in the first half with the help of the mud as an attacker broke free at the top of the penalty box and launched an arcing shot past Donahoe, frozen in the mud.