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When the Harvard men’s soccer team steps out onto the field this afternoon, Fairfield will be looking to exact a small measure of revenge.
Last year, the Crimson (1-0-1, 0-0 Ivy) spoiled the Stags’ home opener on Lessing Field—their newly constructed pitch—on an overtime goal from then-junior midfielder Ladd Fritz that won the game 2-1.
Fairfield (2-2-1) enters the game riding a particularly bitter two-game losing streak.
In matches against both Iona and BU last weekend, the Stags led 1-0. But both times, Fairfield lost control of the game and surrendering the game-winning goal with fewer than 13 minutes remaining in the contest for a pair of 2-1 defeats.
“The thing with college soccer is that it’s not like football and it’s not like basketball,” said senior midfielder Kevin Ara. “On any given day, anybody can beat anyone.”
Ara hopes to graduate without losing to the Stags. Since the 2000 season, Harvard has posted a 2-0-1 record in three games.
Adding yet another accomplishment to his list of accolades, the Missouri Athletic Club announced two weeks ago that Ara is among 15 players around the country on the watch list for the Hermann Trophy, which goes to the national player of the year.
Despite missing a month because of a knee injury, Ara led the Crimson in scoring and points last season—nine and 20, respectively—and was named a third team All-American last year.
“To be named All-American as a junior is a feat in itself,” said Harvard coach John Kerr. “[Being] considered one of the top players in the country is a tribute to how good he is and has been at Harvard. He’s our go-to guy.”
Despite all the hype and expectations Ara is facing this season, he remains modest about his personal accomplishments.
“I wasn’t expecting anything,” said Ara. “It’s great to be nominated for such a thing, but right now individual honors aren’t my concern.”
He was also named to the All-Ivy and NSCAA All-New England teams his sophomore and junior years.
Eager to Return
Harvard remains undefeated at the end of a tough opening weekend despite injuries to Fritz and goaltenders Jamie Roth and Ryan Johnson. All are expected to return to action soon.
Fritz was second in scoring only to Ara last season with eight goals and was twice named All-Ivy. After injuring his knee last spring, he only recently made his way back onto the field, but even then not at full-strength.
“He trained with us the other day, but non-contact,” Kerr said. “We don’t want to rush him back too early. When he does come back, we want to make sure he is back for good, and not back for one game and then done.”
Roth and Johnson are out with groin and shoulder injuries, respectively, but are each expected to compete with junior Conrad Jones for the starting role when they return.
“Luckily we have three really good goalies, and no matter who we send in there, it’s like having a starter,” Kerr said.
Despite that statement, Kerr hinted that either Roth or Johnson would get the nod when they returns by criticizing Jones’ misplay which allowed URI’s goal during Sunday’s game.
“Conrad made a bad decision, and we paid the price for it,” Kerr said.
Last year Roth recorded the highest save average—.730—and received the majority of the playing time. He started in eight of the 14 games he played in, and Johnson had three starts in five games. Jones did not play at all.
—Staff writer Evan R. Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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