LOS ANGELES – The Harvard women's soccer team – tasked with facing the No. 1 team and defending national champion in the second round of the NCAA Tournament – gave its all but fell to UCLA at Drake Stadium, 7-0. The Crimson (11-5-2) finishes its successful season, while the Bruins (20-0-2) continue on to the third round versus Pepperdine Sunday.
"We're very proud of this team," said head coach Ray Leone. "We're disappointed with the result, but certainly not with our effort tonight against a great UCLA team. We gave it all we had and this team played with Harvard heart tonight."
UCLA, which reeled off 24 shots to Harvard's two on the evening, found the back of the net four times in the first half, starting with a penalty kick in the beginning moments. Sarah Killion converted the PK at 1:16, starting the Bruins' momentum.
Down 3-0, the Crimson nearly had an opportunity after Joan Fleischman settled a loose ball near midfield. Fleischman found Purce up the central alley, who then took a deep shot from range, but it skipped just high of the net.
Into the second half, Fleishman again was on the attack, this time nearly knocking a flicked shot in, but UCLA keeper Katelyn Rowland was there to make the save. Off the save Rowland threw it up field to Taylor Smith, who did the rest of the work herself to make it 5-0.
Later on in the contest, Lizzie Durack proved her mettle in the second when another penalty kick was called in favor of the hosts. Pac-12 Player of the Year Sam Mewis lined up the shot, but Durack denied the shot with emphasis, the last of her seven saves on the evening. Seniors Cheta Emba and Bethany Kanten each got their chance in net in the last 30 minutes, staving off the brutal UCLA attack.
The back line of Harvard played fine defense as well, given the tall order. The movement of Alika Keene and Bailey Gary, along with the ball-hawking skills from senior Erika Garcia kept the Bruins in check for much of the second half.
But the No. 1 team in the country went on to claim a 7-0 victory and a berth into the Sweet 16 on Sunday. The Crimson finish 2014 as the Ivy League champions, having made it further than any other Harvard squad since 2001.