After a 4-0 shutout of Marist last Monday, the women’s soccer team entered the week with a chance to turn its season around. Preparing for their annual matchup against Harvard, which Head Coach Phil Pincince called “the longest rivalry in women’s soccer in this country,” the Bears (4-7-2, 0-3-1 Ivy) knew that a win over the Crimson (7-6-1, 4-0) could prove to be a turning point in their season.
But despite a valiant defensive effort, the Bears’ anemic offense proved to be their Achilles’ heel once again. A Harvard goal in the 73rd minute was all the Crimson needed in a 1-0 shutout.
The Bears had multiple scoring opportunities early in the game. In the 12th minute, Sydney Calas ’17 lined up a shot on net. Only three minutes later, Carly Gould ’17, coming off a hat trick against Marist, headed a shot that Harvard goalie Lizzie Durack saved. But after the strong start, Brown’s offensive attack slowed substantially.
“The second half, we kept pressing, trying to find a goal,” said captain Sarah Moody ’16. “It just became harder for us to find our forwards and get into the attack.”
The two shots on goal in the first 15 minutes were the closest the Bears would come to scoring. They took only five shots in the match — all in the first half — and only those two went on net.
With the loss, the Bears still have not scored in Ivy League play, and they have only scored only 12 goals in 13 games. The loss to Harvard marked the seventh time this season that the Bears were shut out.
The Bears’ defense kept the team in the game despite the offense’s failure to score. Harvard, which outscored opponents 8-0 in its previous three Ivy League games, was held scoreless until Margaret Purce scored in the 73rd minute. Harvard’s offensive attack was frustrated by the tenacity of the Bears’ defense, led by the returning Maclaine Lehan ’18, who had not played in the Bears’ most recent game.
“Our defense had a really good game against Harvard,” Moody said. “Our main focus is just to score. We can’t win a game without scoring.”
The Crimson shot erratically: Of its 25 shots, only six were on net.
With its strong defensive showing, the team took the loss in stride.
“We were happy with our performance against Harvard,” Moody said. “We never want to lose, so it’s always hard losing, but for the most part I think that people are remaining positive.”
With only three games remaining, little can be changed as far as personnel or tactics go. Rather, the Bears hope that their offense can turn around and that their defense can continue its strong play for the remainder of the schedule.
“We’re looking ahead to Cornell and Penn and Yale, and we have a good chance of beating those teams,” Moody said. “We’re going to focus on scoring, and hopefully those games go our way.”
The Bears will play Saturday afternoon at Cornell (9-1-4, 2-1-1) before returning home on Halloween for their final home game of the season against Penn. The Bears continue to seek their first Ivy League win.
With the season nearing its end, some focus also shifts to next season. The departure of several key graduating seniors as well as Pincince — currently the longest-tenured women’s soccer coach in the country in his 39th season — will lead to a different aura surrounding next year’s team.
“We have a young team and a lot of young talent. So next year and in years to come, it’s going to keep growing, and they’re just going to get better,” Moody said.
Key graduating seniors include Moody, midfielder Charlotte Beach ’16 and forwards Jillian DeSimone ’16 and Erin Katz ’16. Despite these losses, Moody is confident that the team will continue to improve in the coming years, and she sees this season as a successful piece of a turnaround.
“This year has been a turning point — we feel like a close-knit group,” Moody said. “We really do have a good chance of winning out these last three games, and I hope that happens, but I’m happy with the season.”