On Saturday, another chapter in the Harvard-Yale rivalry was written, but it didn’t have the happy ending the women’s soccer team was hoping for.
The Crimson’s Peyton Johnson scored on a penalty kick just two minutes into overtime, and the Bulldogs (4–4–2, 1–1 Ivy) came out with a heartbreaking 2–1 loss at Reese Stadium. Harvard (6–4, 2–0) drew the overtime penalty kick after a cross from Johnson unintentionally struck Yale midfielder Muriel Battaglia’s ’15 hand.
“It was a pretty even game,” head coach Rudy Meredith said. “I think a tie would have been a deserving result. I hate for a game to end like that, with a decision from the referee.”
Meredith said he thought the referee’s decision to give Harvard a penalty kick off after the ball deflected off Battaglia’s hand was unwarranted.
The Bulldogs played well throughout the first half. The team maintained possession and created more scoring opportunities than its archrivals. Yale outshot Harvard 4–3, although only one of the four shots was on goal.
The Elis threatened to score just ten minutes into the game when Meredith Speck ’15 came down the left side and crossed the ball into the box for midfielder Juliann Jeffrey ’14, but Jeffrey’s shot sailed high over the net.
But seven minutes later, Speck scored her third goal of the year. Kristen Forster ’13 sent a long pass to Speck, who then drilled a left-footed shot over Harvard goalkeeper Bethany Kanten and into the back of the net. Speck is known for her ability to play both the left and right sides of the field.
“It was so exciting,” Speck said. “I couldn’t even describe how the goal happened. It was just so good to score.”
The Yale defense was also strong throughout the first half and limited Harvard’s scoring opportunities by consistently breaking up the Crimson’s attacks.
In the second half, however, the Crimson battled back to knot the contest in the 59th minute. Harvard forward Patricia Yau set up the goal by directing a cross to Melanie Baskind, who received the ball right in front of the net and slipped it just inside the far post to tie the game, 1–1.
Harvard finished the second half with an 8–4 shooting edge.
“I thought we played better in the first half,” Meredith said. “I thought we started to force things a little bit … tried to do too much too quickly instead of being a little bit more patient.”
Though both sides generated scoring opportunities throughout the remainder of regulation, neither team could score, and the game went into sudden-death overtime.
But in the 92nd minute, Johnson ended the game by converting on the penalty kick. Johnson fired a low shot just inside the near post to give Harvard the win.
Speck and Meredith both said after the game that they disagreed with the handball call that resulted in the penalty kick.
“I thought it was a ridiculous call,” Speck said. “She’s two feet away from our player. You can’t get out of the way of that. We got robbed in overtime.”
Speck and Meredith said the questionable call was particularly difficult for the team because it was made in overtime.
“My opinion was that there was no intention,” Meredith said. “It’s an overtime game. You don’t decide the game on a call like that that’s 50/50.”
The win allowed Harvard to maintain its first-place standing in the Ivy League along with Columbia, which defeated Brown last weekend. Two games into the Ivy season, both Harvard and Columbia remain undefeated. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are currently in a four-way tie for third alongside Penn, Brown and Dartmouth.
The Elis are slated to continue league play Saturday with a match against Dartmouth. Kickoff is 5:30 p.m. at Reese Stadium.