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It took the best game of senior goalkeeper Kyle Parks’ career to give Harvard men’s soccer a chance on Tuesday afternoon.
Led by Parks, the Crimson (3-5-1, 1-0 Ivy League) looked to continue its winning ways in a midweek, non-conference fixture at Jordan Field, but ultimately had to settle for a tense 1-1 double overtime draw against the University of New Hampshire (6-1-3, 0-1 America East).
Fresh off of its first loss of the season, the No. 21 Wildcats applied pressure early, sending a barrage of shots at Parks in the Crimson net.
Harvard was fortunate not to concede a goal in the first half. The Wildcats, who registered an impressive seven shutouts in their first nine games, dominated possession and attempted seven first-half shots.
“We knew they were a good team coming in,” senior midfielder Christian Sady said. “But we try to approach each game with the same mentality. We try to dictate the game and not play to their level.”
The first half ended without a goal, but a score felt inevitable as the second half began. In the 51st minute, Parks made a terrific stop at point blank range to deny New Hampshire sophomore Jack Doherty. On the ensuing counterattack, sophomore forward Philip Hausen slipped a perfect ball past a defender and into the box to freshman midfielder Paolo Belloni-Urso. The former U.S. Men’s National Team U-18 product coolly tucked the ball past Wildcats keeper Andrew Pesci and into the back of the net to give the Crimson a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute.
Only Harvard’s second shot on goal of the contest, Belloni-Urso’s score shifted momentum Harvard’s way, albeit momentarily.
Immediately following the goal, the Crimson gave the ball away with poor passing, giving Doherty yet another chance one-on-one. But once again, Parks denied him. The Wildcats continued to send numbers forward following Belloni-Urso’s goal, desperate to find an equalizer.
In the 66th minute, a cross into the Harvard penalty box finally proved deadly for the Crimson. Freshman defender Fernando Docters was whistled for a penalty while defending a New Hampshire attacker. Junior Chris Arling converted the ensuing penalty kick for the visitors, sending Parks the wrong way and knotting the game, 1-1.
Spurred on by the equalizer, the Wildcats continued to press, as Parks was drawn into denying yet another one-on-one opportunity from New Hampshire forward Robin Schmidt with 20 minutes remaining.
There were several tense moments in the waning minutes of the game, with the Wildcats appearing to score a go-ahead goal before being called for a foul. With the score still tied at one apiece after 90 minutes, both squads prepared themselves for additional play.
Building on the momentum they generated in the waning moments of regular time, New Hampshire threatened first in overtime, after being awarded an indirect free kick inside the box. But Arling’s low shot was denied at close-range by a wall of Harvard defenders, keeping the Crimson alive.
The Wildcats continued to press Harvard’s defense for the rest of the match, but Parks and the rest of the back line held firm under the challenge. Parks’ play was the highlight of the second overtime, as the netminder rejected three more attempts from Arling and Doherty at point blank range. Parks recorded a total of eleven saves over the course of the contest, four more than his previous career-high single-game total.
“Kyle [Parks] was incredible,” said co-captain and defender Eric Gylling. “They were going down our throats and Kyle [Parks] kept us in it through all of that”.
—Contributing writer Sean Chanicka can be reached at email@example.com.
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