Four seniors on the Harvard men’s soccer team will try for their last win at home against Columbia on Saturday night.
The graduating class of midfielder Scott Prozeller, defender Richard Smith, and forwards Brian Rodgers and Zack Wolfenzon will play at Soldiers Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium with its squad for the last time, with Harvard (2-9-3, 0-4-1 Ivy) hoping to emerge with its first Ivy League victory of the season against the Lions (3-7-4, 1-2-2 Ivy).
“It won’t change much, at least not during the game,” said Prozeller, who serves as co-captain with Smith. “But leading up to it and especially after it, there will be a lot of emotions around the game.”
The Crimson seniors have taken on different roles on the team, but each has made an impact this season. Wolfenzon, along with rookies Oliver White and Jake Freeman, leads the team with three goals, including a game-winning goal in double overtime against BU earlier this month.
Rodgers, who suffered from a season-ending injury last year, returned to the pitch early this season and has been effective off the bench, racking up four shots in five games.
Prozeller, with one goal and one assist, and Smith have started every game this season, providing consistency in the midfield and backline. Off the field, they have worked to boost team morale and create a positive team environment.
“They have tried to do things that fit our individual team, rather than the way things have been done in the past,” junior defender Ross Friedman said. “I think we have seen a lot of results in the locker room.”
The team is anticipating a competitive match with Columbia, which currently sits in sixth place in the Ivy League to Harvard’s seventh.
“[The Lions] are kind of going through the same thing we are struggling in the Ivy League,” Friedman said. “We are excited to really go for our first Ivy League win of the season and do it for the seniors.”
The Lions have only one win in the Ancient Eight thus far against Penn, which the Crimson will face next week in its last contest of the season.
“From the years past, [Columbia is] a very technical team but not the most athletic team, so I think that plays to our strengths,” Prozeller said. “We have had good matchups against them in the past, and we are expecting the same on Saturday.”
Harvard will need to maintain the level of play for the whole game in order to pull off a win. Last week against Dartmouth, the Crimson carried a 1-1 tie into the 76th minute before allowing two consecutive goals to drop the contest, 3-1.
“It’s kind of a self-belief thing at this point where we have seen a lot of goals go in in the last 20 minutes of the game,” Friedman said. “How are we going to prevent that from happening? How are we, in the last 20 minutes, going to dig in and score a goal for ourselves rather than getting scored on?”
The Harvard offense has shown potential, getting shut out only four times this season, but it has struggled to finish when it matters most. In its seven games that have gone into overtime this season, Harvard has gone 1-3-3.
“In most of the games we have played, we have had spells of 60 minutes or 55 minutes where we have really dominated the game,” Prozeller said. “But we haven’t been able to put together a full 90 where we have had that focus.”