In the Harvard women’s soccer team’s regular season finale, freshman goalkeeper Bethany Kanten showed why she and her Crimson teammates are a force to be reckoned with as they head into the 2011 NCAA tournament.
Kanten earned her second shutout of the year with two saves in the Crimson’s Ivy League title-clinching victory at Columbia on Saturday, improving her personal record to 9-2-1.
Harvard (12-4-1, 6-0-1 Ivy) took down a driven Columbia (6-10-1, 3-3-1) team, 1-0, thanks in large part to Kanten and the back line’s unyielding defense.
“Columbia had a lot to fight for,” Kanten said. “[Getting the] win was important for our mentality going into the NCAA tournament game.”
Though a tie would have still ensured the Crimson’s outright ownership of the Ivy League title, Kanten was determined to finish the season with a victory.
“Ending on a tie, we still would have won, but it’s not great for how we would have felt going into playing a big-time team next weekend,” she said.
Kanten’s first save came in the 37th minute when the Lions’ senior forward Ashlin Yahr ripped a shot from six yards out.
The Harvard keeper made a diving stop to her right to preserve the shutout.
Not only did Kanten’s save keep the Lions off the board, it also denied Yahr’s bid to tie Columbia’s all-time career goals record of 30.
“We knew she was going to be a big threat,” said Kanten of Yahr and her extra motivation to score that night. “We talked about it before the game, but we played like we would in any other situation.”
In the 52nd minute, the Lions took another shot on goal, and, once again, Kanten came up with the save, brushing off senior midfielder Natalie Melo’s attempt.
Though Columbia tallied 10 shots on the night, Harvard’s defense strengthened in the second half, not allowing another attempt on goal.
“On Saturday night, Bethany was one of our many players who played out of their minds,” freshman midfielder Mai Le said. “They were incredible. … She and our defense were the heroes of the game.”
Freshmen have played a large part in the Crimson’s success all season. It was fitting then that rookie Lauren Urke scored Harvard’s lone goal on an assist from classmate Meg Casscells-Hamby.
“It’s such a big family,” said Kanten of the team’s ability to integrate even the youngest players.