As the 2012 women’s soccer season approaches its final weekend of competition, only one obstacle remains between the Lions (6-8-1, 2-3-1 Ivy) and a spot in the top half of the Ivy League: reigning Ivy Champion Harvard (8-5-3, 2-3-1). The Lions will face off against the Crimson this Saturday in Cambridge for their last match of the year.
The Light Blue and Crimson are currently tied in the conference with a 2-3-1 record going into their last game of the season, which will serve as a tiebreaker to determine who remains in the upper half of the league.
Though Hurricane Sandy shut down Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus on Monday and Tuesday, head coach Kevin McCarthy the team wasn’t directly impacted and only had to cancel one practice. The team has remained focused on its final weekend.
“We expect to come out with the unparalleled drive and passion that have powered us through the season, and go out with a bang,” junior forward Coleen Rizzo said. “We have seniors to honor, a team that loves to win, and Lion pride to represent. A final Ivy League win would be the perfect way for this team to end our season.”
Going into the match, Harvard definitely has history on its side. Of the 26 matchups between the Crimson and the Lions, Harvard holds a 22-3-1 edge in the all-time series, and no current players for the Lions have ever beaten the women from Cambridge.
McCarthy does not put much stock in past results, though, and stressed that the team is focused on the game ahead.
“I don’t think the past is relevant,” he said. “This game will determine which one of us finishes in the top half of the league, and our program has been able to do that very consistently over the past decade. In that regard, it is an important match.”
Looking at this year’s squad, Harvard will bring formidable offensive weapons into the match on Saturday. Sophomore midfielder Meg Casscells-Hamby leads the Crimson with six goals and three assists this season. Junior forward Elizabeth Weisman has tallied five goals of her own in 2012, three of which proved to be game winners. Harvard has made a specialty out of scoring late in the game, with 21 out of its 26 goals coming in the second half or an overtime period.
The Lions have a strong counter to the Crimson in their own offense, led by Rizzo and junior midfielder Beverly Leon, who have combined for 12 goals on the year. On offense, McCarthy sees the Lions ready to dictate the pace of the game this weekend after a solid offensive showing in the 1-1 tie against Yale last weekend.
“We had a very strong performance against Yale and completely dominated the game, so we want to see that domination again, but this time come up with a bit more production and a winning result,” he said.
On the defensive end, sophomore goalkeeper and defensive anchor Grace Redmon may not take the field on Saturday after suffering a mild concussion in the first minute of the game against Yale last weekend. McCarthy said that although Redmon was take out as a precaution, she’s passed the necesary concussion tests and is day-to-day.
Going into the Lions’ last game of the season, McCarthy noted a strong progression from the team’s first games of the year to now.
“I think that we have certainly taken strides forward in embracing our system and style of play,” he said. “In our last match we produced a lot more shots than we had earlier in the season. The next step is to put that in the back of the net, and we plan to do that this Saturday.”
The action starts this Saturday at Harvard at 12 p.m.