Saturday’s contest at the Quinnipiac Soccer Stadium pitted the Ivy League’s Harvard Crimson against the Bobcats for the first time in program history, with the home squad registering the 1-0 victory for their fifth win in five games this season.
The first half was a back-and-forth, frustrating affair, with both teams moving the ball up and down the field but unable to generate many real scoring chances with the opposing defenders doing a great job of clogging up the middle of the box.
It took over 42 minutes for the Bobcats to record their first shot on goal of the game when sophomore defender Jared Smith ripped a free kick towards the top right corner that required Harvard junior goalkeeper Oskar Nilsson to make a leaping save.
That would be the highlight of the first half’s action, as the two teams were tied scoreless as they headed into the second 45-minute frame. But coming out of the locker room, the Bobcats’ offense seemed to have found new life, putting another shot on goal less than a minute in before junior forward Brage Aasen unloaded a shot from just outside the 18 yard box that found the back of the twine to give Quinnipiac the 1-0 lead with 42 minutes left to play
Aasen has found his touch on the pitch in the past two weeks or so, now having scored in three consecutive games.
“I feel more energized,” Aasen said. “I feel like I have a lot more juice in my legs. I feel like when I come to opportunities like that, I just take it, and it feels like a goal from the moment it releases from my foot.”
This level of scoring does not come as a surprise to the Norwegian forward, as it was a part of the expectations he set for himself as the season got underway.
“I feel like I have pretty high expectations,” Aasen said. “I want to score every game or get points every game. I also want to be more involved defensively than I have been the past couple seasons.”
There were several major chances for both sides as the game clock ticked closer and closer to 90 minutes, including a Harvard header that was redirected off the crossbar with less than two minutes to play. But in the end the score would remain the same. The Bobcats took this one 1-0 in front of their home crowd to continue their undefeated season as they head towards conference play.
The Bobcats’ sophomore goalkeeper Antreas Hadjiigavriel posted his third clean sheet on the season in the win, having only allowed a single goal in four games played, but that’s not to say he hasn’t been tested. He recorded six saves on the afternoon and shut down many would-be scoring opportunities in the passing lanes, especially as the Crimson surged on offense in the game’s waning minutes.
“We just had to defend, take the emotion out of it,” Hadjigavriel said. “We had a little bit of pressure, the last five minutes especially, and the referees kept stopping the clock, so that added extra pressure as well, but I think we defended well and managed to grow from it. We’re used to this now.”
Quinnipiac’s next game looks to be its toughest so far this season, as it heads north to Durham to take on the University of New Hampshire, the No. 9 team in the country in the United Soccer Coaches’ latest poll on Tuesday.
Despite the intimidating ranking, the Bobcats’ approach to the season looks upon this game as any other.
“We’ve been talking about it since day one that we know where we want to be by the end of the season, and that in order to get there, every game in isolation is the biggest game of the year,” Quinnipiac men’s soccer head coach Eric Da Costa said. “Whether it was the first five teams or whether it’s New Hampshire on Tuesday, we respect every opponent that we play and we know that it’s preparing us for the end of September through October which is our conference slate and that is the most important part of the season.”