Men's Soccer Outmuscles UMass in Overtime, 3-2

Men's Soccer Outmuscles UMass in Overtime, 3-2

Kobayashi (pictured) scored his second goal of the season on Friday. (Gil Talbot)

AMHERST, Mass. – With its back against the wall yet again – down 2-0 for the second straight game – the Harvard men's soccer team clawed its way back to down UMass, 3-2, in a thrilling overtime contest. Hiroki Kobayashi lofted in a header from deep in the box to give the Crimson its fifth consecutive victory, improving to 5-3 on the season. The Minutemen fall to 1-6 this year after the loss.

"There was great determination and fight by our team," associate head coach Jonathan Delano said after the win. "We give credit to UMass; they showed tremendous grit today. We are very proud of our group."

Harvard reeled off a staggering 33 shots, 21 of which went straight for UMass keeper Ryan Buckingham, while the Minutemen were able to get just two shots on goal – one of which came by way of a successful penalty kick early in the first.

Jake Freeman and Daniel Smith joined Kobayashi in the scoring column on the day, having been assisted by Nate Devine, Sam Brown and Andrew Chang across the board.  

The Crimson nearly got on the board in the first five minutes as Tim Schmoll found a chance in the box, but Buckingham made a sprawling save – one of his 17 on the afternoon – to fend off the Harvard attack. Minutes later, the Crimson drew a foul just outside the 18-yard box, but the Minuteman wall stood tall on the dangerous short free kick.

Though the Crimson applied much of the pressure early, it was the Minutemen who struck first. After Mendez was whistled for a foul in the box, UMass' Josh Jess converted on the penalty kick at the 13 minute mark. Just four minutes later, the hole Harvard found itself in grew deeper when Mark Morris found the upper 90 on a rope from 30 yards out to make it 2-0.

Freeman's goal started to turn things around, though. After coming loose in the box, Devine made a great play to kick the ball towards Freeman, who was in position to take advantage of Buckingham's misstep after a save to head the ball in and cut the lead to 2-1 before the half.

At the 53-minute mark, Daniel Smith knotted things up off yet another Sam Brown set piece set up. Brown forced the ball into the box, where Smith was able to redirect a header right in front for his team-best third score of the season.

Overtime was needed after neither side could get anything going to close out the second half, Harvard's second extra-time game this season. After some back-and-forth, Chang sent a cross to the far corner, where Kobayashi was standing in position. The senior's header skied the ball over Buckingham and into the top drawer for the win.

Now 5-3, Harvard prepares for Ivy League play a week from Saturday when Yale comes to town for a 7 p.m. showdown on Oct. 4.