Early Goal Paces Mann, Harvard Against Red

Lau’s quick strike all that’s needed for dominant Crimson D

After having some slow offensive starts this season, the Harvard women’s soccer team (3-8-1, 2-1-0 Ivy) couldn’t wait even four minutes to put one in the back of the net.

The Crimson got a goal from sophomore midfield Rachel Lau at the 3:45 mark of the game and played conservative soccer through the rest of a 2-0 win over Cornell (1-9-1, 0-3-0) in Ivy League action on Saturday afternoon at Ohiri Field.

“A goal in the first five minutes really gave us some momentum,” Lau said. “It’s something we strive for every game.”

Freshman forward Christina Hagner played a long, deep cross to the Cornell end line, and Lau headed it past Big Red keeper Carlyn Swensen for the quick lead.

“It sets the tone for a game,” Harvard coach Erica Walsh said. “We always give that speech—‘let’s get an early goal.’ And when you actually do it, you feel great.”

Still, Harvard was unable to turn the momentum from Lau’s second goal of the season into a rout of one of the Ivy League’s weaker teams. After controlling the first five minutes of play, the Crimson found itself in a fairly even match the rest of the way.

Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Mann provided another solid outing in goal as she recorded her third shutout of the season—her second straight after leading the squad to a 2-0 victory on Wednesday at Vermont. In particular, Mann made two outstanding saves in the second half as Cornell made a push for the equalizer with heavy offensive pressure.

But Harvard received a gift at the 55:43 mark as Hagner lofted a ball into the Cornell box. Big Red defenseman Leslie Campbell skied high in an attempt to deflect the ball out of harm’s way, but wound up heading the ball over the leap of her own keeper and into her team’s own goal.

“It was an odd play, but own-goals happen and that’s soccer,” Lau said. “It was a definitely a cushion, a nice thing for us.”

The Crimson welcomed Devon Sherman back into the starting lineup after the freshman midfielder, who started the first five games of the season, sprained her right ankle on September 15 against Penn State. But a scary moment for another of Harvard’s star freshmen came midway through the second half when a bouncing ball hit the face of defenseman Lizzy Nichols, who suffered multiple facial fractures during a collision September 17 against St. Mary’s. Nichols came out of the game and did not return, but will be fine to play in the Crimson’s next game on Friday night at Brown (6-3-3, 1-1-1).

The Bears are coming off a dominant 4-0 victory at Princeton on Saturday, and count a 2-1 win at then-No. 13 Boston College among several impressive victories this season.

With no mid-week game coming up, Harvard has had two days off before returning today to focus on its next opponent.

And after starting the season with six straight losses, the Crimson players and coach express thanks for having a winning streak.

“We used the early games to prepare for this, and we’re happy about our recent success,” Walsh said. “Our memories are short, and now we’re in a great place.”

—Staff writer Emily W. Cunningham can be reached at