With both teams preparing to vie for their respective league championships, the Harvard and Holy Cross men’s soccer teams took a break from their conference schedules to do battle Wednesday night.
Led by senior goaltender Brett Conrad’s four saves, the Crimson (6-7-2, 4-1-0 Ivy) defeated the Crusaders (7-8-1, 5-3-0 Patriot) at Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium, 1-0.
“Brett probably played the best game that I’ve ever seen him play,” coach Pieter Lehrer said. “He was aggressive, and when he is aggressive, he is a pro-level goalie.”
The win is the first of the season for Conrad, who despite 44 saves this year had been 0-7-1 in his first eight tries.
Conrad has grown quite comfortable playing against Holy Cross over the years. The senior goalkeeper has earned three shutout wins in his career with the Crimson—all of which have come against the Crusaders.
Harvard struck thirty minutes into the game. After earning his third corner kick of the contest, senior defender Ross Friedman sent a cross flying into the box. Junior midfielder Matt Sheeleigh got his head on the ball and gently pushed it ahead to sophomore forward Oliver White.
From the six-yard line, White jumped into the air and drove home a bicycle kick between two Holy Cross defenders to give the Crimson the lead. Crusader goalkeeper Michael Thompson, who had seven saves on the night, was left with no time to react to the strike.
“It was a great finish,” Friedman said. “That’s something we’ve been talking about. Ollie was on his toes, really hunting for the ball. That’s something we try to do in the box because the ball bounces all over the place. We need guys hunting for the ball, so kudos to Ollie for being ready.”
White, after scoring three times as a freshman last year, became the 13th member of the Harvard squad to score a goal this season.
This depth was put on display early as Lehrer elected to make seven substitutions in the first 20 minutes of the game, allowing some of the reserves to get additional playing time. Among the substitutions was Conrad, who entered the game in the 11th minute for sophomore goalkeeper Evan Mendez.
Even with a new-look lineup, the Crimson managed to put constant pressure on the Holy Cross back line and played a physical game in the midfield from the first to last whistle.
“It’s no surprise to me that [the reserves] came out and did a great job,” Friedman said. “This is stuff I see day in and day out in practice from them. They are huge contributors to every game and it was great to see them getting run on the field.”
Despite trailing for the majority of the game, the Crusaders came within inches of tying the game with less than six minutes remaining. Holy Cross forward Ty Goncalves carried the ball up the right wing and launched a cross towards the net. Freshman midfielder Matt Villano was left all alone in the box, but his diving header in front of the keeper went wide right.
After last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Dartmouth, Lehrer emphasized that he wanted his players to bring the same amount of intensity that they have been showing in the first half of games to the second period. On Wednesday, the coach said that he was happy with his team’s response.
“I thought we did a better job at halftime as a staff trying to get guys prepared for the second half,” Lehrer said. ‘They came out and they were fighting…There was not really much of a let up.”
Women's Lacrosse Cannot Overcome Early DeficitThe Harvard women’s lacrosse team was unable to overcome an early deficit en route to a dropped contest to Holy Cross on Wednesday night at Holy Cross Field, 17-12.
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Men's Soccer Preps For Final Tune-UpWith just two weeks left in its season, the Harvard men’s soccer team will look to continue its recent strong play against the Holy Cross Crusaders on Wednesday.
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Women's Lacrosse Dominates Holy Cross in One-Sided MatchupThe Crimson (7-4, 3-1 Ivy) took a break from conference play with a mid-week match up against the Crusaders (5-10, 3-3 Patriot League) in Worcester. The first half was when Harvard solidified its offense, scoring 10 goals in the opening 30 minutes of play, while holding Holy Cross to only one scoring drive.