Saturday marks not only the Ivy League opener for the men’s soccer team but also a chance for revenge against archrivals. The Bulldogs (1–7–1) travel to Cambridge, Mass., looking to come out with a win against the Crimson (2–3–3) after having recorded losses in the past four contests, the last of which was a heartbreaking double-overtime loss last season.
“The past two years we have been on the wrong end of a hard-fought 1–0 game,” defender Chris Dennen ’12 said. “Last year they beat us on an overtime goal. The rivalry in itself does makes this game a little extra special, but we also haven’t forgotten the feeling of watching them celebrate a game-winner on our field last year.”
The Crimson are coming off a group of disappointing games: Two double-overtime draws followed by two single-goal losses. But highlights in Harvard’s season have included not only a win against No. 13 Stanford in the Crimson’s season-opener, as well as an overtime draw against 10th-ranked UConn, a team that beat Yale 3–1 on September 4. Although the Bulldogs are coming off a hard-fought match against a nationally ranked St. John’s squad, the team knows it will have to play at its prime to come out of this weekend with a win.
“We expect the game to be a fight,” Dennen said. “We know they are always a good, strong, competitive team, and we know we will have to be at our best to beat them.”
The Elis will begin their battle for the Ivy League title on Saturday, an opportunity, according to head coach Brian Tompkins, that can serve as a second start to the Bulldogs’ season after the team’s loss to St. John’s. The team can put the sting of seven losses behind it and ride the momentum and confidence gained from Tuesday’s matchup against St. John’s, Dennen said.
“Against St. John’s, we proved we can compete with some of the best teams in the country,” he said. “Despite the result, I believe our performance on Tuesday night was strong and has the team feeling confident and eager for the Harvard game.”
The Elis are beginning the Ivy League portion of their season against a Crimson team that lost only four of its 19 games last season. The team is excited to begin the second half of its season, facing a group of teams Dennen says will be the toughest the Bulldogs have faced in years. But the junior has faith that if the team puts its best play out on the table, the Elis have a chance to finish at the top of the league.
The contest is slated for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Ohiri Field.