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Ale Gutierrez scored a brace for the second time in his career to send the Harvard men’s soccer team (5-4-6, 3-1-2) past the visiting Princeton Tigers (4-7-3, 1-3-2) on Senior Day at Jordan Field. This win kept the Crimson on top of the Ivy League standings with 11 points.
A sunny Saturday in Cambridge set the scene for what would be a wire-to-wire game between two historic Ivy League rivals. The first half proved to be a strong defensive battle, with both teams generating few shots. Although Princeton sophomore Daniel Ittycheria and Tiger senior Walker Gillespie both generated looks at the net, the Harvard defense was able to hold them scoreless until halftime.
The second half opened with the teams tied 0-0. After a tight back-and-forth to open the half, Crimson junior Alessandro Arlotti won the ball from two Princeton players near the left corner and wove through two more Tiger defenders toward the net. Arlotti quickly played the ball behind a few yards to Gutierrez, who buried it in the back of the net for the first goal of the game in the 49th minute.
Princeton reattacked rapidly, forcing sophomore goalkeeper Lucian Wood to make several quick saves. The Tigers continued to wear down the Harvard defense, with a breakaway shot that missed just left of the goal, as well as earning several corners, when Princeton finally equalized in the 88th minute.
Initially running with a Crimson defender down the left side of the field, Tiger sophomore Jack Jasinski crossed the ball to the right side of the net to Gillespie, who headed it towards his teammate, sophomore Will Francis. Francis quickly hit the ball off of his head past Wood to tie the game 1-1.
With just a few minutes left to play, Harvard regrouped fast and forced play inside the Princeton box. The Crimson had a look at goal that missed just right, but in the scramble to control the ball, a Tiger defender tripped Harvard first-year Dylan Tellado inside the box with a minute left to play, setting up a penalty kick. Gutierrez stepped up to take it and buried it in the bottom right corner, past Princeton junior goalkeeper William Watson, who dove the other direction.
With a solidified spot in the inaugural Ivy League tournament, Harvard has been building on its success all season. Gutierrez’s two goals tie his single-game career high and bring him to 24 career points, with three goals and eight points on the season. Arlotti, who assisted Gutierrez’s goal, notched his sixth assist of the season with the goal and 20 overall in his career. He leads the team in both assists and points, with six assists and 12 points on the year.
Sophomore Ethan Vegthe was also a threat for the Crimson against Princeton, with a game-high three shots, while Wood held down the backfield with four saves on the day, the eighth time this season he has done so. Senior Jan Rieke and junior Ludovico Rollo also played large roles in Harvard’s defense on Saturday, with both playing the full 90 minutes. Rieke has played almost every minute of the season so far (1,333 out of 1,350).
This Senior Day, Harvard honored all six of its seniors (Gutierrez, Willem Ebbinge, James Fahmy, Kaoru Fujiwara, Harry Moore, and Nik White) for their dedication and years put into the program, even through the pandemic. This class of seniors has guided the program through a remarkable turnaround, from a 0-14-1 record in 2019 to a 9-4-4 record last season in 2022, and a berth in the first-ever Ivy League men’s soccer tournament this year in 2023. In its last 16 Ivy League games, the Crimson have posted a strong 9-2-5 record. And although Harvard was missing two main contributors, Ebbinge and White, on Saturday, the team played well for their seniors and looked strong, confident, and connected.
Harvard looks to stay at the top of the Ivy League standings, where it is currently tied with the Penn Quakers (6-3-5, 3-1-2) and the Yale Bulldogs (8-5-2, 3-1-2). By making the tournament, the Crimson will play in a single-elimination style tournament starting Friday, Nov. 10th and ending with the championship on Sunday, Nov. 12th. The top four teams in the Ivy League at the end of this next weekend will make the tournament and will be pitted against each other for the Ivy League title. Harvard will look to earn a high seed with a win on their trip north to New Hampshire to take on the Dartmouth Big Green (4-8-2, 2-3-1). The game will be at 12pm on Saturday Nov. 4th at Burnham Field and streamed on ESPN+.
-Staff writer Maddie Barkate can be reached at email@example.com
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