Simon Enstrom did not give Harvard men’s soccer a fighting chance Tuesday afternoon at Jordan Field.
The Swede netted a hat trick to lead rival Boston College (4-8-0, 0-5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to a 3-1 victory over Harvard (2-7-2, 1-1-0 Ivy League) and snap his team’s own four-game losing streak in a mid-week reprieve from conference play.
From the start, the Eagles dominated the point of attack. The junior forward recorded his first tally in the 17th minute, tapping in a front post cross, before the Crimson could even record a shot.
Harvard showed glimpses of form throughout the first half, but failed to sustain any pressure and stem the tide of Boston College’s pressure. The first 45 minutes saw both teams record the same number of shots, but BC controlled the majority of possession and put five shots on goal.
The Crimson looked to level the scoreboard in the 34th minute from the head of freshman midfielder/forward Paolo Belloni-Urso, but the rest of his body was offsides to negate the equalizer. This chance was emblematic of the entire game—Harvard’s play was fleeting, left in the missed chances and not in the results.
“It’s easy to look at the score line and get down, but I actually thought that was the best game that we have played,” senior midfielder Christian Sady said. “We kept really good possession and we fought through.”
Just as Harvard was continuing its offensive zone pressure, a perfect clearance from sophomore forward Adam French propelled the Eagles’ counter attack. Taking the ball in stride, Enstrom nodded the ball between the legs of senior goalkeeper Kyle Parks for the game’s deciding goal.
The counters by Boston College were effective throughout the match, especially in killing off any of the momentum that the Crimson sought to gain. But bad touches in the midfield and mishit shots also sent the team into the second half with little to show.
After halftime, Harvard looked to step up the offensive pressure, pushing sophomore defender/midfielder Joel Serugo and co-captain Justin Cricklow further up the field.
But Boston College kept up the attack with seven straight shots to begin the second half, culminating in a header from Enstrom to complete the hat trick. The team’s leading goal-scorer (eight) and points leader (18) made sure his team returned to Chestnut Hill with a victory, its first in its last five tries.
“His strong suit is using his body and wrapping you up,” co-captain Eric Gylling said. “The tactic is either to step in front and win the ball before it gets to him or win it off his second touch. Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job of dealing with him. Obviously, we missed him a couple of times and those were the times that they scored.”
Whether by design or desperation, Harvard started to right the ship after BC’s third goal by pushing up the field. Sophomore midfielder/forward Asa Silverman came in as a substitute and spread the field with his wing play, missing a quality chance less than a minute after stepping on the pitch.
But the Crimson leaned on its trusty veteran in Sady to finally get on the scoreboard. A centering pass put the ball at the top of the 18-yard box at the foot of Sady, whose shot was handballed by a Boston College player. He converted his own drawn penalty to pump life into the home team with less than 15 minutes remaining.
Sady’s conversion was really the product of his larger full-game effort in which he played quarterback and set up Harvard’s speckling of changes. But his goal did do well to energize the rest of the team.
Silverman put two dangerous crosses into the box, but the Crimson was unable to capitalize. Another centering pass with less than three minutes remaining led to a shot from point-blank range from Belloni-Urso, but his own teammate accidentally blocked his shot away from the touchline.
Harvard could not muster late-game heroics akin to its 2-1 earlier win at Yale, but this non-conference game means little in terms of the team’s postseason hopes, as it has split the only two Ivy League that it has played so far.
“I have every bit of belief that we are going to come out on top,” said Sady. “We’re going to keep competing and we have everything to play for.”
—Staff writer William Quan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org