BY XANNI BROWN
Limited celebration at men’s soccer’s fall fiesta.
Harvard Men’s Soccer opened their season with a pair of games against Iona and Davidson, the latter constituting an apparently annual event called the “Fall Fiesta.” While both games resulted in Crimson losses, there was significant improvement over the course of the weekend. Having fallen to Iona 3-0 in Friday’s contest, Harvard looked strong in front of a mid-size crowd on Sunday, scoring their first goal of the season before eventually giving up two late goals to the team from North Carolina.
This weekend’s games were head coach Pieter Lehrer’s first at the helm of the Crimson, and he seemed pleased by the team’s effort, praising their fight and commitment. Lehrer said, “The energy was fantastic, and the spirit of the guys was too. They fought the whole time, and that is going to be something we can build on.”
Though the soccer on Sunday was excellent, the “Fiesta” aspect of the afternoon seemed a little oversold. After making my way to Ohiri Field (which is not the soccer stadium you’re thinking of, but rather the grass fields behind Harvard Business School), I was greeted with a free t-shirt, the soda of my choice, and a chance to enter some sort of raffle that would be announced at halftime. There was no Mexican food, and as far as I could tell, the warm-up playlist had none of the distinctive characteristics of a fiesta. They didn’t even play the Shakira World Cup song. At halftime, some freshmen were recruited to spin several times around a bat and then attempt to play soccer, which, though amusing, paled in comparison to the real action.
The game started with a couple chances for Davidson, including a shot in the sixth minute by Alec Rotunda, which bounced off the right goalpost before senior goalkeeper Brett Conrad collected the ball. Much of the game’s early momentum stayed with Davidson, but the Crimson put together a few nice combinations as well, and both teams came out of the first half scoreless.
Ten minutes after halftime, Harvard nearly scored on a breakaway by Hiroki Kobayashi ’15, but his shot drifted just wide of the net. Soon after, senior William Giahos created some space and floated a cross into the box. Freshman Ashi Geberkidane won out in the resulting scuffle in front of the net, sending the ball past Davidson’s keeper and putting Harvard in the lead. Geberkidane was modest about the first goal of his Harvard career, saying “All I had to do was be there. Right moment, right time.”
Just twelve minutes later, a long shot from Davidson’s Ryan Malden managed to make its way over the goal line, drawing the two teams even. Both teams made some spectacular efforts as the clock wound down, including another shot on goal by Geberkidane and a pair of Davidson shots saved by Conrad, but it was the Wildcats who found the back of the net again. With just over two minutes left, Max Pragnell put the winning shot into the lower left corner of the goal for Davidson.
“It was a bummer. I thought we had it,” said Geberkidane. “But we’ll come out tomorrow and work hard and be out there again next week to get us a win.”
Xanni Brown ’14 had really been hoping for more burritos.