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Up 2-1 with a minute left, victory seemed assured for the Harvard men's soccer team in the final game of its season, at Hartwick.
But a lot can happen in a minute.
A Hartwick player broke through the defense, and kicked the ball off the goalpost. The Warriors got the rebound and kicked a shot that seemed sure to go in and tie the game.
The good news: The Crimson managed to stop the shot.
The bad news: it was sophomore Tom McLaughlin's hand that stopped it.
McLaughlin got a red card, and had to leave the game. Hartwick scored on the ensuing penalty kick, and Harvard had to play two over-time periods with only 10 men on the field. In the second overtime, the Warriors scored the game-winner.
"The ball was going in, and it was just a reflex," McLaughlin said. "But I don't know if it was too smart."
Actually, a defender blocking a sure goal with his hand is a very controversial play. If the Warriors had missed the penalty kick, the Crimson would have won the game. However, Hartwick making the shot forced an overtime situation in which Harvard was man-down the entire time.
Would McLaughlin make the same play if he had it to do over again?
"I was kind of wondering that myself," he said. "But, if they'd missed the penalty kick we would have won it right then and there. So, I guess I did do the right thing."
The game was also notable for the weather--20 mph winds blew across the length of the field. That can make it very difficult, especially playing against the wind.
Remarkably, all of the Harvard's scoring came in the second half, when they were playing against the wind. The first half ended in a scoreless tie.
"The wind was pretty much a joke," sophomore forward Toure McCluskey said.
McCluskey managed to score the first of Harvard's two second half goals. Junior forward Richard Wilmot broke through the defense, and made a good pass to McCluskey, who booted it home.
Senior team captain Chris Wojcik scored the second goal for the Crimson, 10 minutes later.
"The weather dictated the game," sophomore midfielder Ricky Le said. "Somehow we found a way to score two goals in the second half."
Until the final minute, Hartwick's only score had come on a free kick early into the second half.
But Harvard just couldn't wrap up the victory. A defensive lapse allowed the tying goal, and subsequent over-time loss.
"I thought we played pretty well," McCluskey said. "We deserved a win--we just didn't get it."
"It was indicative of the entire season," McLaughlin reflected. "We got so close, and then fell apart."
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