Saturday, November 28, 2009

Harvard Soccer Takes on Defending National Champions

On Sunday afternoon at 1PM, the Harvard Crimson and Maryland Terrapins will face each other at Ohiri Field in the third round of the 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Soccer Championship in a game that can be heard on 95.3 FM WHRB in the Boston area and online at After the jump, we'll take a look at both teams as they battle toward the Elite Eight.

Maryland Terrapins, ACC
In League Play: The Terps are 15-4-2 on the year, going 4-2-2 in the ACC, earning them fourth place behind UNC, Wake Forest, and Boston College. Maryland lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament, 1-0 to Virginia. The ACC has six teams in the tournament still out of seven that have made it, and they have gone a collective 9-1 so far in tournament play.
In Tournament Play: Maryland, the national champions in 2008, are in the Sweet Sixteen for the eight consecutive time. They have advanced to the Final Four in four of the last six seasons. The Terps are undefeated for the first time since 2001 in the tournament. Maryland defeated in-state rival Loyola Maryland 2-1 in the first round, and then knocked off No. 7 Penn State on the road 2-1. The Terrapins have 4 wins, 4 losses, and 2 draws against teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Last Time Out: Maryland was facing a tough challenge, playing a Penn State team that had not lost at home all season. Billy Cortes opened up the scoring for the Terps in the 25th minute with a powerful blast past Warren Gross. The Nittany Lions tied it up in the 49th minute off a set piece, as a free kick was headed in by Brian Forgue for his first collegiate goal. With just about four minutes remaining in play, Jason Herrick netted his seventh game winner of the season for Maryland with a header off the Cortes assist.
Common Opponents: The Maryland Terrapins are 1-1 against common opponents with Harvard this year, defeating Boston College at home 2-0 and falling 1-0 at Wake Forest.
On The Road: Maryland is 3-4-1 away from home on the year; 3-3-1 on the road, and 0-1 in neutral site games.
Key Statistics: Maryland is 11-0 when scoring first; Maryland is 11-0 when leading into the second half; 44% of the Terrapins points have come from underclassmen; The Terps are 10-3 against non-conference teams but only 2-1 in day games; they are 11-2 in games decided by one goal; they are 2-0 on Sundays; Maryland's defense is 19th in the nation with a 0.74 GAA.
Key Players: Junior Captain Jason Herrick has scored nine goals this season, seven of which are game-winners; Senior Drew Yates has played 90 consecutive matches for Maryland, all of the games of his collegiate career; Matt Kassel leads the team in assists with 6; Seniors Kwame Darko, Doug Rodkey, and Kevin Tagney have won two national championships so far with Maryland; Sophomore Goalkeeper Zac MacMath is a member of the US U-20 team- he earned six clean sheets for Maryland this year in nineteen starts, garnering a 0.82 GAA and twelve wins.

No. 10 Harvard Crimson, Ivy League
In League Play: The 14-3-1 Harvard Crimson won the Ivy League by going 5-1-1 in the regular season (there is no tournament in Ivy League play). The Ancient Eight sent half of the conference to the NCAA Tournament, going 2-3 in the tournament. Harvard remains the only Ivy League team in the tournament.
In Tournament Play: The tenth seeded Harvard Crimson earned a first round bye, and then beat Monmouth 3-0 to advance to the NCAA tournament's third round for the first time since 1987. It is the fifth time in program history that the team has advanced to the third round. The Crimson are 20-15 all-time in conference play but have never advanced past the semifinal round of the tournament. This is their 16th overall tournament appearance, and their fourth straight.
Last Time Out: The Crimson took on the Monmouth University Hawks at Ohiri Field last Sunday. The Crimson opened their scoring in the 31st minute with a set piece play, as a corner was knocked around the Hawks' box until Richard Smith found it on his foot for his second opportunity in the scramble, and he booted it in for his second consecutive game winning goal. Harvard dominated the first half in shots, getting a 10-2 advantage, but the Hawks upped the pressure in the second half. Austin Harms helped preserve the Crimson lead, and then Andre Akpan tied the program record for goals with his 47th career goal on a 1 on 1 play that deflated the Hawks attack. Another set piece goal, this time off a free kick, sealed the deal and gave the Crimson a 3-0 lead.
Unfamiliar Foes: The Crimson have never met the Maryland Terrapins on the pitch before. Harvard had also not faced the Monmouth Hawks until last weekend's tournament game. In the regular season, Harvard faced several new opponents for the first time, Stony Brook and Wake Forest. The Crimson are 2-1 against opponents this year they had never faced prior to this season, with both wins coming at home.
Common Opponents: The Crimson are 1-1 against common opponents this year. Harvard defeated Boston College 2-0 on the road, before falling 1-0 to Wake Forest at Wake Forest.
Playing at Home: The Crimson are 8-1 at Ohiri Field on the season, and 9-1 in the state of Massachusetts. The only loss came to conference foe and NCAA tournament field member Princeton, a 2-1 2OT loss.
Media Coverage: The Crimson will have their game broadcast on the radio by 95.3 FM WHRB and online at Harvard are 1-0 this year in games broadcast on the radio in the Boston area- their win against Monmouth last Sunday was also broadcast on WHRB.
Key Statistics: The Crimson are 12-1 when scoring the first goal; Harvard is 7-0 when leading after the first half and 7-2 when tied at the half; Harvard is 8-0 when scoring more than two goals; The Crimson are 4-0 on Sunday games and 12-1 in afternoon games; the Crimson defense ranks 15th in the country with a 0.70 GAA and they are 0-2 when giving up two or more goals in a game; 11 players have scored goals the Crimson this season.
Key Players: Senior Captain and Hermann Trophy candidate Andre Akpan leads the Crimson and the Ivy League with 12 goals and 6 assists and he is tied for the program record of career goals with 47 career goals plus a program record 33 assists; Freshman Brian Rodgers has 6 goals and is tied for a team high six assists; Freshman Richard Smith has two collegiate goals, both coming in consecutive games- the first was the game winner against Penn that gave the Crimson the Ivy League title, and the second was the game winner in last Sunday's NCAA tournament game against Monmouth; Goalkeeper Austin Harms has 7 clean sheets and a 0.75 GAA, earning 13 wins in 17 games played.

Photo of Harvard celebrating Ivy League championship courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications. 

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