Harvard Drops Road Contest at Connecticut, 3-1

Photo of Hana Taiji courtesy

STORRS, Conn. – Hana Taiji scored her first career goal and Lauren Mann made seven saves in net, but the Harvard women’s soccer team fell to Connecticut by a 3-1 margin Saturday afternoon at Morrone Stadium.

In the sixth minute of action, the Huskies capitalized off a free kick as Lauren Ebert scored on a chance into the bottom left corner of the goal at 5:23. Brittany Taylor and Linda Ruutu earned assists from the free kick and a cross pass into the middle of the box. Less than three minutes later, Lizzy Nichols gave Harvard its best early chance as she booted a free kick that Connecticut goalkeeper Jessica Dulski had to grab for her first save.

At 10:03, Melissa Busque built Connecticut’s lead to 2-0 when she headed the ball over Mann after receiving a cross pass from the right side by teammate Jessica Shufelt.

With time winding down in the first half, Mann kept Harvard (0-1-1) within two scores when she snared a shot off the left foot of Lauren Ebert. On the ensuing Crimson possession, Taiji netted her first goal of the season as she chipped the ball over Dulski’s head and into the right portion of the cage for the score at 42:19. Taiji’s goal, which was assisted by Aisha Price, cut Harvard’s deficit in half, 2-1. At the break, the Crimson owned a 6-4 edge in shots and a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Connecticut (1-2) managed the first four shots of the second half, but two went wide and the other was blocked by the Crimson defense. Mann saved the fourth attempt, a kick by Busque at 51:18. Late in the 58th minute, Harvard’s Aisha Price got a quick shot off at Dulski, but the goalkeeper stood her ground and corralled the ball to prevent a second Crimson chance.

Ruutu’s kick at 68:01 provided the Huskies a two-goal cushion, as she booted a chance into the left side of the cage. Ruutu maneuvered through the Harvard defense in the middle of the box and scored off a pass from the right corner by Busque.

In the 72nd minute, Harvard’s Rebecca Millock and Katherine Sheeleigh put pressure on the Huskies with a shot apiece, but their kicks were both turned aside by Dulski. Harvard had another quality chance with seven minutes to play when Kellee Kim crossed the ball into the box. Nichols got her foot on the ball, but it rolled out of bounds without reaching the net. In the final moments, Nichols booted a shot that hit the cross bar, but Dulski grabbed the rebound to prevent a Crimson score.

For the game, Connecticut led in shots, 18-13, but the Crimson owned a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks.

Harvard returns home for a non-conference game against New Hampshire Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. The Crimson has won the last four meetings and 10 of the last 11 games against the Wildcats.