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Set piece prowess from Sheyenne Allen ’23.5 powers women’s soccer to win in Ivy opener

Allen notches brace in 2-0 victory over Harvard

<p>Despite being outshot 13-8 by the Crimson, a four-save performance by goalkeeper Clare Gagne ’24 and strong team defense overall helped Bruno manage a clean sheet.</p><p>Courtesy of Emma C. Marion / Brown Athletics</p>

Despite being outshot 13-8 by the Crimson, a four-save performance by goalkeeper Clare Gagne ’24 and strong team defense overall helped Bruno manage a clean sheet.

Courtesy of Emma C. Marion / Brown Athletics

The women’s soccer team (5-1-2, 1-0-0 Ivy) was locked into a frenetic, back-and-forth game in the first half of Saturday’s game against Harvard (5-3-1, 0-1-0 Ivy). As the match entered halftime scoreless, Harvard looked the superior team: The Crimson were controlling the midfield, generating more chances than the Bears — especially through forward Ólöf Kristinsdóttir — and dominating the run of play. 

But Brown flipped the script coming out of the break, as a pair of goals off of the left foot of midfielder Sheyenne Allen ’23.5 in the 53rd and 60th minutes made the difference in Bruno’s 2-0 victory. 

“It was a great battle between two quality teams. (Brown) and Harvard are always vying for the top of that table at the end of the season, so getting a result against them is a great launching pad for the rest of the Ivy season,” Head Coach Kia McNeill wrote in an email to The Herald. “We made some adjustments at halftime that allowed us to get on the ball more and generate more possession building up the field, which is what ultimately contributed to us getting the two goals we got from Sheyenne Allen.”

“In the first half we were retreating a lot and trying to protect the space in behind, and in effect, we weren’t getting enough pressure on the ball and in the midfield,” she added. “We were really specific about who needed to step up and take which players, and this helped us neutralize some of the overloads they were creating in wide areas.”

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Set pieces proved to be the main difference in the game. Brown was able to prevent Harvard from scoring off any of their nine corner kicks, while Allen’s goals came off a free kick and directly from a corner. 

McNeill emphasized that working on set pieces figured heavily into the team’s preparation. “Set pieces have always been a pillar of our team’s success, and something we pride ourselves on as a program,” she wrote. “I think repetition and our players being on the same page in terms of their roles and responsibilities is really all it comes down to.”

Allen’s first goal came off a foul won by forward Ava Seelenfreund ’23.5, hitting the center of goal just outside the box after cutting inside on her left foot from the wing. “I knew I wanted to take a go at it,” Allen wrote. “I don’t remember feeling nervous at all. … The only thing I was looking at was the space between the post and the goalkeeper that the wall covered and knew exactly where I wanted to sink it.”

“As soon as the ball went over the wall, I knew it was far enough from the goalkeeper,” she wrote. “I honestly didn’t even see the ball hit the net initially. I had to do a double take as I was running away.” 

Allen was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week for her performance. “Sheyenne has been tremendous all season and obviously really showcased that this weekend. Big-time players show up in big moments, and she knew that we needed her to really step up and give us that edge that game,” McNeill wrote of Allen’s performance. 

“She has been playing like a senior captain and holding nothing back this fall,” McNeill added. “I am happy that she was rewarded for her efforts by getting the goals and also earning Offensive Player of the Week.”

Allen’s brace helped the Bears respond to a Harvard defense that was able to contain star forward and reigning First-Team All American and Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year Brittany Raphino ’23.5, who attempted two shots on goal but was unable to find the back of the net.

The Bears also benefited from a strong defensive performance. Despite being outshot 13-8 by the Crimson, a four-save performance by goalkeeper Clare Gagne ’24 and strong team defense overall helped Bruno manage a clean sheet.

Brown will look to continue their good form, defensive stability and set piece effectiveness as they head into their next game against No. 14 Princeton (6-1-1) Saturday. Coming off a 4-2 win in their Ivy League opener against Cornell, the Tigers will be a tough test for the Bears, though Bruno beat the Tigers 6-1 in last year’s game.

“We knew Harvard would be one of our hardest games,” Allen wrote. “To get out of this matchup with a hard-fought two points is great for team morale.”

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