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The Harvard men's soccer team is kicking more than just the ball.
On Tuesday, Harvard (9-1-0 overall, 3-1-0 Ivy) extended its winning streak to nine games with a 5-1 thrashing of Maine in Portland.
Harvard now boasts a number 12 national ranking, which equals the ranking of the Harvard women's team. The team moved up eight places from number 20 after Tuesday's NCAA poll was released.
The Crimson, which was never in danger of trailing, took a commanding 4-0 lead at halftime.
Junior forward Tom McLaughlin registered a hat trick, scoring three goals in the victory. Captain Will Kohler added two assists.
The offensive onslaught was matched by a defense that was as unforgiving as a brick wall.
The Crimson goalies were consistently strong, with sophomore Jordan Dupuis and senior Pete Albers halving game time.
"It was not only our offense that was in top shape," sophomore midfielder Armando Petruccelli said. "[Junior back] John Vrionis shut out their best player. It could have been a much uglier game if our defense hadn't played well."
Although the Crimson cruised, the win was an important one for a team that is now garnering so much national recognition.
"When you're nationally ranked, there are always teams waiting to upset you," sophomore back Lee Williams said. "Although we'd been winning the last few games, we hadn't really been competitive. This is probably the best we've played all season."
Harvard has been soaring since its only setback, a 3-1 loss to Cornell in the season opener.
"Winning's been cantagious for us," Petruccelli said. "We weren't necessarily playing our best soccer, but we're improving with every game."
Harvard would like the improved performance in this victory over Maine to be a harbinger of good things to come. The team is looking to parlay its momentum into a peak performance at the NCAA tournament.
"Hopefully we'll take the confidence with us," Williams said. "We didn't get distracted as in the past."
The Crimson needs its key players to continue to step up. With Tuesday's stellar performance, Harvard's mental edge seems to be razor sharp.
"We go out there with this confidence," Petruccelli said. "That's the difference between this year and the rest."
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