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Harvard plays No. 10 Boston College close in 2-1 loss

By Walter E. Howell, Crimson Staff Writer

Much was at stake for the Harvard women’s soccer team this weekend during its matchups against Boston rivals Northeastern and No. 10 Boston College.

The team was in search of its first win of the fall campaign after starting its season 0-1-1 after a tie at Hartford and 2-1 loss against George Mason. All the while, Beantown bragging rights were up for grabs, making the challenge of the weekend’s tilts all the more demanding for the Crimson.

But the squad answered the call, gaining a split against its Boston rivals. On Friday, behind the outstanding play of sophomore goalie Lauren Mann, Harvard (1-2-1) tallied a 1-0 victory over Northeastern (1-2-0).

Although the squad could not continue its winning ways against Boston College (3-0) yesterday, the team kept pace with one of the nation’s best squads for much of the match, showcasing moments of stellar play throughout the 2-1 loss.

The weekend, on the whole, was a step in the right direction for the Crimson.

“We played really well on Friday night. And we were hoping to carry it into the game [against Boston College],” junior co-captain Nikki Rhodes said. “We came out really hard and played hard all game. The effort was definitely there. We were hoping to go out with a better result, but we’re happy with this effort.”

Over the first four games of the season, Harvard has notched four goals, three of them coming off the foot of a first-year.

“This is our fourth game of the season,” senior co-captain Megan Merritt said. “But with four freshman starters, they’re not acting like freshmen.”

NO. 10 BOSTON COLLEGE 2, HARVARD 1

Against a top-10 school, on the road, and coming off a 3-13-1 season in 2006, not much was expected of Harvard in its tilt against Boston College.

Needless to say, the squad exceeded expectations yesterday.

The Crimson played neck-and-neck with the Eagles for most of the game before relinquishing its control of the game late. Up through the 74th minute, when the Eagles tallied the eventual game-winner, Harvard challenged the ranked Boston College squad, pushing its opponents to the brink.

The Crimson even held a lead on the Eagles. Just 10 minutes in, freshman Gina Wideroff netted her first goal of the year off a brilliant pass from sophomore Christina Hagner.

A series of adjustments from new head coach Ray Leone kept Harvard pressing. In mixing up his formations and strategies throughout the game, the Crimson kept the Eagles on their toes and their explosive and dynamic offense at bay.

“They were taking control of the game, so we had to change,” Leone said. “It worked for a little bit, but then they figured it out.”

After grinding for 70 minutes, Boston College’s constant pressure became too much for the Crimson. With only one day of rest over the weekend, Harvard had no gas left in the tank, as the team’s bid to knock off the Eagles fell just short.

“They dominated us,” Leone said. “We were just a step off. It was difficult to play on Friday and then play today.”

HARVARD 1, NORTHEASTERN 0

The future of the Crimson women’s soccer program shone bright Friday in the team's 1-0 victory over the Huskies.

Paced by sophomore keeper and reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Lauren Mann’s first shutout of the season, the team dominated local rival Northeastern to tally its first win of the year.

And while the second-year keeper controlled the back, Harvard’s Class of 2011 provided the firepower up top.

Freshman Kerry Kartsonis and Wideroff broke free to challenge the Huskies defense in the second half, and fellow first-year Katherine Sheeleigh closed the door on the squad with her first goal of the season, a laser from 25 yards out that found the top-right corner of the goal.

The score, tallied with 19 minutes remaining, gave the Crimson a lead it would never relinquish.

—Staff writer Walter E. Howell can be reached at wehowell@fas.harvard.edu.

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