The 2021 season for the Crimson (8-5-3) was one of best in recent history, and they show no sign of letting up in 2022. Two victories to begin the season over Central Connecticut State University and Bryant University foretell good things to come, with Harvard showing its ability to work under pressure early with a last-second go-ahead goal against the Bulldogs to win the game.
Harvard 2, Central Connecticut State 0
The Crimson opened the season against the Central Connecticut Blue Devils on Saturday, September 3rd. Harvard handily dealt with their opponents, shutting them out similarly to their 2021 matchup.
This was the third career shutout for senior goalkeeper Oskar Nilsson, who made one save in the game. Other notable players included sophomore Alessandro Arlotti and junior Willem Ebbinge. Arlotti started the scoring off for the Crimson at 26:34 in the game; he is coming off a stellar rookie season in which he scored nine goals and was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year Ebbinge’s goal at 47:33 made the win all but assured, with Harvard riding out their lead for the win.
Several other Harvard players celebrated milestones in the match. Sophomore Kristjan Gunnarsson received his first college point with an assist on Arlotti’s goal, and sophomore Marko Isakovic earned his second collegiate point with an assist.
Harvard 2, Bryant 1
Crimson fans who braved the elements to watch their team play the Bryant Bulldogs were treated to a much tighter and more nerve-wracking contest on a rainy Tuesday night.
The game remained scoreless until the 50th minute when Ebbinge broke away off an assist from junior Nik White to put Harvard up 1-0. The Crimson rode this wave until the 80th minute, when a foul gave the Bulldogs a chance to equalize the game. Bryant junior Luis Fernando Paúl took a free kick from 15 yards out, nailing the top right of the net to tie the game 1-1.
Minutes later, Nilsson, Harvard’s goalkeeper, took a nasty fall and had to leave the game, though it was unclear whether Nilsson’s substitution was due to an injury or simply the rule against playing with blood on your jersey.
The Crimson subbed in senior goalkeeper David Paquette for the final six minutes, who had a strong performance in spite of the cold weather, and Bryant did not get another good look at the goal.
It appeared as though the game would end without further excitement until Arlotti was fouled in the box and was awarded a penalty kick. Lining up, he fired it at the net but was stopped by Bryant sophomore goalkeeper Luca Marinelli. Arlotti played the rebound well for a second chance at net, but a mammoth effort by Marinelli kept the Crimson at bay.
For the final six minutes, Harvard played fiercely, aggressively charging at their attacking end, trying to score one last goal. After a few weak looks at the net, Ebbinge played the ball into the box with less than a minute left, which was deflected away by a Bryant defender. However, first-year Marcos Ojea Quintana was able to keep the ball alive, sending it to senior Nico Garcia-Morillo, who scored the game winner off a left cross low with two seconds to spare.
The Crimson fans erupted, with the team charging to meet them at the fence, celebrating. The bench rushed to meet them, and the game for all intents and purposes, ended there.
These two games bode well for Harvard’s season, with several players already in good form. Ebbinge now has five points on the season with goals in two consecutive games. Arlotti is picking up right where he left off, and several Harvard defenders, including White, Gunnarsson, and sophomore Jan Riecke are seeing significant minutes.
The Crimson will be in action again on the road at Vermont on Saturday, Sept. 10th, 7:00pm.
–Staff writer Maddie B. Barkate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.