Despite rain, wind, and overall tough conditions, the team pushed through and dominated the Crusaders in a tough non-conference tilt.
At the team’s last meeting, Harvard and Holy Cross ended the game at a draw at Ohiri Field, but this year the Crimson left no room for error, shutting the Crusaders down.
“Last year we were not pleased with the result against [Holy Cross],” co-captain Mike Fucito said. “We knew coming in this would be a tough game. They always play us tough.”
The Crusaders entered the game undefeated in its last three appearances and currently lead the Patriot League.standings.
This was supposed to be a tough test for Harvard, who is ranked for the first time since the beginning of its fall season. Only outshooting Holy Cross by one, the Crimson simply took advantage of key opportunities to notch a resounding win.
“When we got opportunities to score, we did,” Fucito said. “I think overall our defense played pretty well.”
Fucito scored the only goal of the first half in the 24th minute, blasting the ball into the right side of the net past Crusader goalkeeper Thomas Booth. Junior Andre Akpan had the assist on the play.
Akpan had a standout performance as he notched two goals, increasing his season total to six. He accumulated a team-high five points on the day. Akpan appeared in top form just in time for the Crimson, as it makes its stretch run toward an Ivy championship.
In the 68th minute, John Stamatis passed the ball to Akpan, who dribbled through the top edge of the box before finally knocking the ball into the right side of the goal. The two paired up again, this time scoring from the left side with less than a minute remaining in the game.
The Crusaders’ offense was no match for the Crimson backline, as the Crusaders could only muster one shot on goal over the course of the game. It is credit to a strong Harvard defensive effort, wich has stepped up its game over the past weeks.
Freshman keeper Austin Harms made the lone save to record his third shutout of the season.
The closest Holy Cross got to scoring was in 52nd minute, when Paul Tearson ripped a shot, but Harms was up to the challenge to preserve his shutout. The young keeper continued his stellar rookie season with this effort last night in Worcester.
“It went well tonight and hopefully we can keep building off of each game and keep getting better,” Fucito said.
Harvard’s only losses this year have come midweek. The team has appeared sluggish in recent outings
Yesterday, the team came out expecting more.
“A lot of times we struggle with midweek games,” co-captain Luke Sager said. “But we got the result tonight.”
The Crimson seems to be getting better and better each time they play this season.
It has shutout three of its last four opponents and is looking to tally its fifth straight win this Saturday against its Ivy rival Tigers.
“Tonight, when we were under pressure, I think we were more patient on the ball,” Fucito said. “We played off of the situations more. I think in that respect we are getting better, and, naturally, we are starting to gel.”
Harvard looks to take this momentum into its weekend match against Princeton.
This game will be one of the most important of the season as it continues on its path toward an Ivy championship.
“It’s really important for our confidence that we are scoring goals again like we used to,” Sager said. “We’re starting to get on a roll here which is what we need.”