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There is no room to argue. If the Harvard men's soccer team ever needed a win, the time is now.
The Crimson (3-4-1, 1-1-2 Ivy) faces local opponent Northeastern at Ohiri Field at 3 p.m. The two teams have not met since 1929, but nevertheless, with the season now more than halfway through, the match is a crucial one for the struggling Crimson.
"We need to get back to our winning ways," said sophomore midfielder Ryan Keeton.
Two weeks ago, the team devastated rival Boston University with a score of 5-0. It appeared that the scoring woes that had plagued the team earlier in the season would become a mere memory.
This winning momentum, unfortunately, soon proved to be short lived.
Against Cornell last Saturday, Harvard was unable to build upon the winning strategies cultivated during the previous week's win. The team was grudgingly resigned to a 2-2 tie with the Ivy opponent.
The failed victory was by no means the result of a lukewarm effort. Harvard tallied over 20 shots on goal during the match--nine of which were taken in overtime.
It was, however, its inability to capitalize on chances that was Harvard's true adversary Saturday.
"Mental preparation made a big difference in our game," Keeton said. "We really let down after they scored that first goal, when what we needed to do was to get back on track.
Lamentably, this game-day inconsistency has been a common nemesis of the Crimson.
"Obviously our style of play was a big factor in the outcome," said junior defender Lee Williams. "Cornell was a stronger outfit than B.U., and its system gave us problems. We all knew B.U well, and were familiar with the way they played, but Cornell was an unknown outfit. It took us a long time, most of the game, to get used to their style. That made a huge difference."
It will be very interesting, therefore, to see how the team will fare against a team Harvard hasn't met in close to 70 years.
Regardless of any expectations, the game will be a vital one, both in terms of team morale and its record.
"We haven't played Northeastern in a long time," Keeton said, "but it should be tough in the sense that we need to get back together, particularly with Princeton coming up this weekend."
Harvard will take on the Tigers this Saturday at Ohiri Field, in what will be a critical match for the team.
"It's huge for us," Williams said, "both in terms of us making a strong standing in the Ivy League and also with regard to our overall record."
"An Ivy League game is always tougher than any other match," said Keeton.
Before turning to the Ivy opposition, however, the Crimson must first clear Northeastern's hurdle.
With any luck, today's match will prove that the skill, determination and scoring power brilliantly demonstrated at the B.U. game was not a fortunate accident but a glimpse at the team's true capability.
Record: 3-4-1 overall; 1-1-2 Ivy
Coach: Steve Locker
Captains: Tom McLaughlin
Key Players: Jordan Dupuis, Will Hench, Ricky Le
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