Ashi Geberkidane netted the game-winner for Harvard Saturday night against Brown (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – All the scoring in the game happened in the first 36 minutes of the match, but it was the hosts who held the early momentum as the Harvard men's soccer team downed Ivy foe Brown, 2-1, Saturday night at Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium. It marks Harvard's (3-6-2, 2-1-0) second-straight conference victory and Brown's (3-6-3, 0-1-2) first league loss of the year.
Riding high from a double-overtime victory over Cornell one week ago, the Crimson came out with recognizable vigor and confidence, pressuring the Brown defenses for much of the first half. With just 1:20 gone in the game, senior Ross Friedman had a pair of short-range cracks on net, but the first was blocked by a defender and the second was nudged away by the Brown keeper Josh Weiner.
More good looks game 10 minutes later for Harvard, starting with a clean header from Daniel Smith off a Friedman corner that just skimmed over the crossbar. Less than two minutes later, it was Mark Ashby with a clean look in the air, but his header barely evaded the top corner and bounced away. The pressure finally paid off in the 18th minute, thanks to a probing ball from Friedman. The senior struck a free kick from 30 yards out that bounced around right at the top of the six-yard box. A tip from Philip Fleischman got the ball to Ashby who managed to shove the ball past the line for the opening score.
The up-tempo continued after the score for Harvard, and the second goal came soon after. Andrew Wheeler showed off his speed chasing a ball down the right sideline, and the freshman lofted a dangerous cross just before the ball crossed the end line. The cross cleared most of the defenders in the box and classmate Ashi Geberkidane was smartly positioned on the back post, needing just a well-timed jump and a clean head to bury the ball in the top corner for a 2-0 lead. Jack Gorab got the guests on the board, heading in a Voltaire Escalona cross at the 35:34 mark, but the Crimson did well to hold a 2-1 lead into the break.
Play evened out in the second half and both goalies were called upon to make saves to keep the score 2-1. With the pressure of a one-goal deficit weighing on Brown, the Bears increased their offensive presence in the latter stages of the game, despite Harvard's best efforts to kill the clock and clear forward passes. The Crimson fans had a gut-wrenching moment with 3:23 to play when Alex Markes blasted a bending shot through a crowd from just outside the 18-yard box that evaded Harvard goalie Evan Mendez but solidly struck the far post and bounced clear. It was the last look Brown would have the final horn sounded, sealing the 2-1 win for Harvard.
Mendez remained undefeated on the season, upping his record to 3-0-1 and collecting six saves in the game. Weiner posted five saves in the loss for the Bears.
Harvard steps out of conference play for the second-to-last time this season when it makes the short trip to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to take on Boston College Tuesday. The game is slated for 4 p.m.