The Harvard-Yale rivalry felt the extra weight of a must-win conference game on Saturday night.
In a hard-fought battle, the Crimson women’s soccer team dropped its second straight Ivy League matchup, coming up short against the Bulldogs in New Haven, 3-0. Yale (7-3-1, 1-1-0 Ivy League) held Harvard (6-5-1, 0-2-0) at bay to effectively dash the visitor’s hopes of defending its Ancient Eight title.
In a defensive struggle, the winner was predictably decided at the very end of the game.
In an attempt to knot up the score, facing a 1-0 deficit for most of the game, the Crimson took some offensive risks as the clock wound down. The all-or-nothing play-style ultimately led to two goals from the Bulldogs that sealed the game’s fate.
“I think the turning point was when we upped the tempo and created chances to take some risks,” Harvard coach Chris Hamblin said.
These risks, however, proved fruitless, as the Crimson was shut out for the second straight game. Yale’s stellar goalkeeping kept Harvard scoreless, as Bulldogs sophomore goalie Alyssa Fagel posted a career-high nine saves on as many shots on goal.
The Crimson had 17 shots to Yale’s 18, but the Bulldogs were able to net a pair of goals in the waning minutes of the game to pull away. The two teams were separated by one goal in all but the final nine minutes of the game.
“We created enough chances to tie and take the game at the end,” Hamblin said. “We generated the most shots we’ve had all year.”
Harvard pounded the Bulldog defense with shots all night despite Yale’s exceptional work at goalkeeper. Crimson junior defender Leah Mohammadi attempted a team-high seven shots, with four of these on goal, but was unable to find the back of the net.
“We had a really good 20 to 30 minute stretch in the second half where we were putting them under pressure,” senior co-captain Marie Becker said.
On the other end, the Harvard defense faced equally heavy pressure. The Bulldogs’ offense attempted 18 shots, keeping the foot on the pedal for the entire game.
In addition, Yale earned nine corner kicks, four in the first half and five in the second half, bombarding the Crimson from a multitude of set pieces. Harvard, on the other hand, did not earn a single corner kick in the entire contest.
The Crimson also split time between two goalies, giving each one half to play. Junior goalkeeper Danielle Etzel played the first half, with sophomore goalie Kat Hess finishing off the final 45 minutes of the contest.
The pair of Harvard goalkeepers was able to hold off the Bulldogs for most of the game, but the dicey offensive risks taken by the Crimson at the end of the contest left its defense vulnerable to a Yale attack.
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