A case of mistaken identity, coupled with tight play-calling, may have helped to put an end to Harvard men’s soccer’s Ivy League hopes.
The Crimson (2-9-4, 1-3-2 Ivy) fell to Ivy League champions Dartmouth (11-3-1, 5-0-1 Ivy) on a wonder-goal that came in the final minute of the game, after senior midfielder Matt Danilack’s bicycle kick found the back of the net.
The Crimson was forced to play the majority of the game with only 10 men, after freshman midfielder Paolo Belloni-Urso was ejected for receiving his second yellow card of the evening. The Delray Beach, Fla., native had previously picked up his penalty for pulling down a Dartmouth player with 25 ticks on the clock, just shortly after coming onto the field. There weren’t many complaints to be had from the Harvard players, as it was a clear pull, and it took place within a few yards of the referee.
Just under 10 minutes later though, the Crimson players, coaching staff, and fans were left puzzled as Belloni-Urso was issued a second yellow card for a late, but tame, challenge on a Dartmouth player around midfield. The referee quickly showed a yellow to the rookie, but hesitated for a very long time before pulling out the red card to send him off the field.
The unusual delay was a fairly obvious indication that the referee did not initially realize that it was Belloni-Urso who made the challenge, which means that the referee could have thought that he was issuing a first yellow card to him. This makes sense, as the second offense may have been worthy of a first yellow card, (even this is debatable) but it was by no means a challenge worth sending him off for. Thus, without meaning to, the referee had sentenced Harvard to playing the game, with a whole hour remaining on the clock, with one less player than its opponent.
Although the Crimson battled well to the end, the man-advantage proved to be too much for it to handle. Harvard spent most of the rest of the game defending, but the contest was not an outrageously one-sided affair. The Crimson definitely had its chances going forward. One can only wonder how the game would have turned out if Harvard had been able to play 11 strong.
The loss on October 28th was enough to eliminate Harvard from Ivy League contention this year. With two games remaining on the schedule, a win would have put the Crimson two points off the top spot, while a tie would have left it four back. In either scenario, the team would have had a lot to play for heading into its last two contests, but as it stands, the Crimson will have to wait until next year for a shot at Ancient Eight glory.