Early Goals Lift Penn To 2-0 Victory Over Men’s Soccer in Ivy Title Bout
Harvard finished second in the Ivy standings with a 5-2-0 league record in 2013 (Zack Williamson).
Pieter Lehrer, Evan Mendez Postgame Comments
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A pair of early goals proved to be enough for the second-seeded Penn Quakers, as the Harvard men's soccer team fell one point short of an Ivy League title in a 2-0 loss to Penn Saturday at Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium. Harvard (7-8-2, 5-2-0 Ivy) wraps up its impressive conference run in second place while Penn (8-8-1, 5-1-1 Ivy) seals the 2013 conference championship and automatic NCAA tournament bid.
The first shot of the game came just 30 seconds in, with Harvard's Andrew Chang testing Penn's Max Polkinhorne. It was the Quakers, however, that came out with a full head of steam and wasted little time getting the first goal of the game. A pair of shots were handled by goalie Evan Mendez, but the ensuing offensive push from Penn ended with Nicky Yin sliding a ball inside the right post with just 4:57 gone for a quick 1-0 lead.
Harvard continued to press following the Penn strike, and A.J. Agha forced Polkinhorne to make his second save of the day minutes later. The counterattack by the Quakers resulted in the second goal of the game, putting Harvard in a 2-0 hole less than 12 minutes in. Offensive catalyst Duke Lacroix collected a ball near the Harvard net and fired a shot to the far post that bested Mendez for a two-goal cushion. The guests continued to pepper Mendez through the remainder of the half, and the sophomore made five saves to keep the deficit at two at halftime.
The urgency was palpable from the Crimson from the outset of the second half, and shots on goal came with a bit more frequency, though none bested Polkinhorne. Harvard's pressing also resulted in a number of corner kicks for the Crimson, but the Penn defenses held on all of Harvard's cross attempts. The physicality continued to mount through the half, with Harvard picking up three yellow cards, but the climax of the game came in the final minute.
With 54 seconds to play, Penn's Louis Schott handled the ball in the box, drawing a red card and putting senior Kevin Harrington on the dot with a penalty kick. Harrington drove a shot towards the low left corner of the net, but Polkinhorne dove and got just enough to deflect the ball wide, sealing the shutout victory.
The loss was Mendez' only defeat on the season, as he finished with a 6-1-1 record and a 5-1-0 mark in Ivy action. Polkinhorne picked up his fourth win of the season, making four saves in the win for Penn.