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M. Soccer Looks To Upset No. 20 Brown

By James Sigel, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard men’s soccer team has already shown that it can hang with some of the best teams in the country this season. This Saturday, the Crimson hopes to prove it can beat them.

When No. 20 Brown rolls up to Ohiri Field tomorrow at 11 a.m., it will be the third-highest ranked team Harvard has played thus far. The Crimson’s two previous games against ranked opponents—No. 3 North Carolina and No. 16 Yale—were both tight, well-played 1-0 losses.

Harvard (5-3-3, 0-1 Ivy) held off the Tarheels for 76 minutes before finally giving up a goal. Though the Crimson did not register a shot on goal in the game, it demonstrated it could play competitively against a perennial national championship contender.

Yale squeaked past Harvard by an even thinner margin, the lone goal of the game being scored on a penalty kick in the eighth minute of play.

Tomorrow, the Crimson has a chance to register its first victory against a highly-ranked opponent. The fact that Brown (6-3-1, 2-0) is also an Ivy League rival, currently sitting atop the league with Yale, makes the game that much more important.

“We need to play a very disciplined game,” senior midfielder Kevin Ara said. “If we can just come out and play our game, we’ll be fine.”

Harvard must find a way to shut down Brown’s twin scoring threats— senior forward Adom Crew and junior forward Romaniero Marcus. Crew is the Bears’ leading scorer, with six goals and two assists, while Marcus is close behind with three goals and four assists.

“We’ve been concentrating on shutting down the longballs,” sophomore forward Brian Charnock said. “That way, we can keep [Crew and Marcus] from ever getting the ball.”

The Crimson has scoring threats of its own. Freshman forward Matt Hoff has emerged as one of the best finishers in the Ivy League with a team-leading five goals.

Ara and senior forward Ladd Fritz, Harvard’s leading scorers last year, both found the back of the net in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Holy Cross. If these two are able to continue their scoring ways, the Crimson offense can certainly be a very potent force.

“We’re starting to gel offensively,” Ara said. “Hopefully we can score a few against Brown, but they’re a good team, and they’ve beem playing well too.”

Brown is certain to remember Ara. Last year he scored both goals in a 2-1 Harvard victory over the Bears.

The Crimson will also need to rely on the continued stellar play of sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Johnson.

Johnson emerged as the starting goalie after a slew of injuries hampered all three of Harvard’s netminders, but he has since proven how much he belongs in the goal with his recent play.

He registered a career-high 10 saves against Holy Cross, and his goals against average (GAA) of 0.84 is the second-best in the Ivies.

Tomorrow’s game begins a stretch in which five of the Crimson’s six games are against Ivy League opponents. Currently, Harvard sits in sixth place.

Depending on how Saturday’s games go, the Crimson could find itself skyrocketed up to third place. A loss to Brown, and Harvard could conceivably drop into a tie for last in the league.

If the Crimson hope to overtake Brown and Yale by the end of the season, a win tomorrow is crucial.

Also, if Harvard eventually fails to win the Ivy League, a win against Brown could prove critical to its hopes of securing an at-large bid to the 48 team NCAA tournament.

To obtain such a spot, a team must first have a record over .500. Then record, strength of schedule and Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) are all considered.

The RPI is adjusted to give bonus points for beating teams with high RPI, so a win against a highly ranked team like Brown could be a great boon for the Crimson’s postseason prospects.

The game’s importance is not lost on Harvard.

“It’s huge,” Charnock said. “It’s basically our whole season on the line.”

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Men's Soccer