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Lengthy Losing Streak Comes to End, But Not With A Win

Shown here in earlier action, senior goalkeeper Austin Harms had four saves in a 1-1 tie with Dartmouth Saturday afternoon, which broke a run of six straight Crimson losses but kept the squad winless in Ivy play. The veteran remains one shutout shy of tying the Harvard record for career clean sheets.
Shown here in earlier action, senior goalkeeper Austin Harms had four saves in a 1-1 tie with Dartmouth Saturday afternoon, which broke a run of six straight Crimson losses but kept the squad winless in Ivy play. The veteran remains one shutout shy of tying the Harvard record for career clean sheets.
By Daniel A. Grafstein, Contributing Writer

The few brave souls willing to endure heavy rain, sleet, and snow were treated to a rewarding matchup as Harvard (2-10-2, 0-4-1) played Dartmouth (7-4-3, 3-1-1) to a 1-1 draw at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium on Saturday night.

The tie snapped Harvard’s six-game losing streak and gives the Crimson its first point in the Ivy League standings.

His team down, 1-0, Harvard sophomore defender Eric Slingerland showed off his control with a remarkably well-placed chip lob from just beyond midfield that landed right on the foot of breaking freshman forward Hiroki Kobayashi.

He volleyed it past Big Green goalkeeper Noah Cohen into the back of the net for the Harvard’s first and only goal of the game. Kobayashi’s goal was also the first of his collegiate career.

“It was my first college-age goal, and it always feels good to score because it helps the team out,” Kobayashi said.

Kevin Dzierzawksi of Dartmouth had knocked in the first goal of the match in the 23rd minute on a long drive that bounced off the head of a Crimson defender and floated over senior goalkeeper Austin Harms.

The goal kept Harms one game shy of matching the school record for shutouts.

With the score level late in the first half, the Dartmouth front line relentlessly pressed deep into Harvard territory searching for the goal to put the visitors back in the lead.

During the 34th minute, the Big Green looked poised to regain the advantage, when Dartmouth’s Patrick Murray wrested possession of the ball in front of the Crimson goal and summarily delivered a shot to the bottom left corner of the net. But Harms’ timely dive earned him a save and kept Harvard level with Dartmouth.

Five minutes later, with Dartmouth on the corner kick, Harms and the Crimson back line were tested again when Big Green midfielder Dzierzawksi launched a dangerous ball into Harvard’s penalty box.

But Harms was there once again to snag the ball out of the air and put an end to Dartmouth’s offensive opportunity.

For the half, the Big Green held a slight lead in shots, 7-6.

Though both teams had chances to break the deadlock late in the second half and into extra time, neither team was able find the winning touch in front of net for a second goal.

On Harvard’s end, a pair of headers early in the second half nearly found the back of the net, including one from senior defender Baba Omosegbon that hit the post.

And in the 65th minute, senior midfielder Ben Tsuda sent a pass just out of the reach of sophomore defender Charles Agha Obiajulu. Obiajulu, who came in undefended and slid on the play, collided with the Big Green’s Cohen. After an injury timeout, Cohen proved to be fine.

As the match progressed past regulation time and into overtime, the Crimson continued its relentless search for the golden goal by out-shooting Dartmouth, 5-2, in the two overtime periods. But despite Harvard’s offensive pressure, Cohen and the Big Green back line held on to deny the Crimson of its first victory since mid-September.

For the match, the Crimson out-shot Dartmouth, 17-13, and attained 10 corner kicks to the Big Green’s five.

“If you look at our result with the way our season is going, I was not terribly dissatisfied with the loss,” sophomore Pascal Mensah said. “But as a competitor, I was disappointed because we certainly had opportunities to win the game in the first overtime.”

The home side was able to steal momentum at the beginning of the first extra period with a series of chances sparked by sophomore defender Ross Friedman.

But Saturday’s positive result could be a sign of things to come for Harvard’s soccer program, as coach Carl Junot started three freshmen and five sophomores, including the Crimson’s lone goal-scorer and leading shooter Friedman, who tallied three shots.

“This is my third year of playing organized soccer, so my soccer IQ is not as high as some of my teammates,” Mensah said. “I feel that it’s always great for younger guys to get to see the field. I wouldn’t be the player I am today without [playing time]. Some of the older guys who are sitting were 90-minute players on the Ivy League championship team, but they have handled the coaching decisions very well by coaching the younger guys and keeping the environment positive.”

Despite vocal complaints from both benches, 33 combined fouls, several close calls, and intense physical play, the only booking of the game belonged to Dartmouth’s Nick Pappas in the 69th minute.

Harvard jumps back in action against Colgate at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium on Tuesday.

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