Women’s soccer will close the season against Harvard this weekend, vying for the second Ivy title in program history and automatic qualification for the NCAA Championships.
After an unexpected loss to Yale shattered an undefeated conference record, the Light Blue (9-5-1, 5-1 Ivy) is tied with Princeton for the top spot in the Ivy League. A win against Harvard (8-8, 2-4 Ivy) would secure at least a share of the title, which would be shared with Princeton if the Tigers defeat Penn on Saturday.
The Lions are hoping to avoid a repeat of last season, when their 4-0 start in Ancient Eight play brought high hopes for the Ivy title that were crushed by consecutive overtime losses against Harvard and Yale. They ultimately ended the season in third place.
Head coach Tracey Bartholomew cited the pressure on this year’s season as a possible reason for the loss to Yale.
“Sometimes when you’re not in the race for the title, you’re a little less stressed,” Bartholomew said.
Harvard is ranked sixth in the Ivy League and, like Yale, is not in the running for an Ivy title, so this weekend the pressure will once again be on the Lions.
Statistically, the Lions have an edge over Harvard. The Crimson boasts just four clean sheets to the Lions’ eight, having given up 20 goals this season compared to the Lions’ 13. The Lions’ offense has also performed better, averaging 2.27 goals per game compared to Havard’s 1.00. A win for Columbia would be its first over Harvard since 2007, when the Lions edged out the Crimson 2-1.
While some unexpected tactics by Yale, including a switch from its usual 3-5-2 formation to a 4-3-3, caught the Lions by surprise last Saturday, Bartholomew claims that the team is now ready to face the unexpected.
“We have to adjust [to] whatever they come out with,” she said. “I think it threw our players last time so now they know—anything can happen.”
Columbia will host Harvard at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium.