Dreams of an Ivy title three-peat were denied as the Harvard women’s soccer team (9-7-1, 4-3 Ivy) finished the 2010 season in fourth place, a disappointment in comparison to the team’s consecutive championships the past two seasons.
“I think we all are a little disappointed to not win [the Ivy League],” sophomore goalkeeper AJ Millet said. “I definitely think we had enough talent to [win it all].”
Early losses to conference opponents Penn and Brown dealt devastating blows to the title bid, and a defeat at the hands of Dartmouth in the penultimate league game of the season sealed the Crimson’s fate to an unfamiliar place in the standings.
Harvard started the season with an exhausting double-overtime tie with Long Island in the newly-built Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium.
The Crimson then secured a 2-0 victory over New Hampshire, with goals coming from co-captain Katherine Sheeleigh and junior forward Patricia Yau.
Sheeleigh, a scoring force in the Ancient Eight for the past four years, was recognized this season as the Ivy League Player of the Year. She and junior forward Melanie Baskind each had a team-high nine goals. Sheeleigh also contributed seven assists, finishing the year with 25 points, first in the Ivy League. The co-captain was a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
“I was looking forward to playing with her [this year],” freshman midfielder Peyton Johnson said. “Sheeleigh is a fierce competitor, and that makes everyone better. She works hard at every practice, and her play makes defenders scared. She’s super competitive, and she brings that to every practice.”
The Boston Breakers, a Women’s Professional Soccer franchise based in Cambridge, drafted the versatile forward in the fourth round.
After initial success, Harvard traveled to Florida and lost its two games down south. The squad then returned to the Northeast but dropped two of the subsequent three games—one of which was a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Quakers—resulting in a 2-4-1 record.
The team then responded by winning three straight, including victories over Ivy opponents Yale and Cornell.
In its next two matches on the road against the Bears and Siena, the Crimson jumped out to an early 1-0 lead but was unable to hold the lead en route to two 2-1 losses.
After these two tough defeats, Harvard rebounded convincingly, winning four of its next five games.
The Crimson’s run began with its 4-0 thumping of Princeton. Baskind had her best performance of the year in the game, scoring two and assisting on the other goals scored.
“We had a lot to prove going into the game,” Johnson said. “We had not-so-great results in the Ivy League up to that point, and Princeton is our toughest competitor, especially if we were to beat them on [its] home turf.”
The next match against Quinnipiac was a hard-fought, double-overtime marathon. In the 101st minute, Sheeleigh sprinted down the sideline and fired a cross past three defenders to sophomore midfielder Alexandra Conigliaro, who buried the goal past a diving goalie, finally breaking the tie and ending the grueling contest with a Harvard victory.