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The Harvard women’s soccer team (5-4, 1-0 Ivy) pummeled New Hampshire (2-7-1, 0-0 America East) in a 4-1 win Sunday afternoon at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium.
It was a true team effort, with four different players scoring each of the Crimson’s goals.
Harvard freshman Erika Garcia, junior Catherine Coppinger, who is also a Crimson sports editor, sophomore Elizabeth Weisman, and rookie Meg Cascells-Hamby each contributed a goal to light up the scoreboard and bolster the home team to victory.
“One of the things we have been focusing on the whole year is playing as a team,” sophomore midfielder Kristina Garrido said. “I think we really showed that [Sunday]—27 [players]-strong.”
Harvard had clear control in the first half of play, tallying 14 shots while its opponent logged a mere three.
The Crimson passed around the Wildcats with ease to give rise to several chances on goal.
With 8:55 already played, junior midfielder Aisha Price slotted the ball to Garcia who knocked it in from just inside the six-yard box.
New Hampshire tried to counter Harvard’s offensive force, but the Crimson’s defense prematurely shut down all Wildcat attempts in Harvard territory, leaving Crimson goalie Bethany Kanten with an uneventful half.
“That was one of the things we focused on going into the game,” Garrido said. “[Harvard coach Ray Leone] said defense first, and then we can go into the attack.”
And attack the squad did.
After its first goal, the Crimson continued to possess the ball and kept applying the pressure on the visiting team.
Harvard worked the ball up both wings and had several crosses in the 18-yard box.
“We were getting everybody involved in our attack, and that was a good thing,” Leone said. “[It] seemed like a lot of people were touching the ball in every attack.”
New Hampshire’s Megan Ledwith had one good look on goal with 6:15 remaining.
But her attempt from the top of the 18-yard box went wide left, and Harvard quickly resumed its potent offensive attack.
With less than a minute left in the half, the Wildcats fouled junior forward Alexandra Conigliaro just outside the penalty box, and Harvard was awarded a free kick.
Sophomore midfielder Peyton Johnson took the kick for the Crimson. New Hampshire goalie managed to get a hand on the ball, but it bounced to freshman midfielder Mai Le, who connected with Coppinger’s head for a goal with 38 seconds left on the clock.
Coppinger’s header was her first career goal and brought Harvard to a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, the Wildcat squad took to the field with more vigor than it had previously demonstrated, but Harvard quickly put down the visiting team’s newfound energy.
Even with New Hampshire applying more ball pressure, the Crimson saw several chances at the net in the first few minutes of the second half.
Only four minutes into the half, Harvard widened its 2-0 lead. Co-captain Melanie Baskind slotted the ball through to Weisman.
She connected with the back of the net from just outside the six-yard line for her third goal of the season.
Less than three minutes later, Baskind picked up her second assist of the game—sixth of the season—with a pass to Casscells-Hamby, who drove the ball past the goalie for her third goal of the season, earning the home team a 4-0 lead over the Wildcats.
“We are putting it together really well on the offensive end,” Garrido said. “[We’re] really spreading the love … A lot of people were getting different opportunities, and people [were] very unselfish and [made] the right decisions. That’s what you need to do: make the right choice, and I think we are getting that.”
New Hampshire quickly answered the Crimson’s fast-paced play in a rare penetration past Harvard’s back line.
Less than a minute after the Crimson’s fourth goal, Wildcat Alyssa Michael assisted on Ledwith’s goal to bring the deficit to three.
Harvard maintained its 4-1 advantage for the remainder of the half and defeated New Hampshire, improving the Crimson’s record to 5-4.
Leone was extremely pleased with his players’ team unity and performance.
“We showed a lot of team cohesiveness,” praised Leone. “It was just a good connection with everybody.”
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