An away win to send the seniors away.
Coming off two consecutive ties, Penn men’s soccer hit the road for the last time this season with hopes of finishing in style. On the other side, Harvard was looking to secure its first win of the year, but thanks to a pair of goals early on, the Quakers were able to cruise past the Crimson by a score of 2-0.
Despite what the scoreboard may show, it was not an easy match for the Red and Blue (7-5-4, 3-1-3 Ivy). Less than a minute into the game, Harvard (0-14-1, 0-7) found the back of the net with a shot off the foot of sophomore forward Alex Debayo-Doherty, but it didn’t take long for the referees to rule it offside.
From then on, the Quakers locked in on both offense and defense. In the 13th minute, senior midfielder Brandon Bartel took a free kick, placing the ball near the goal. Freshman defender Kai Lammers then nodded a strong header into the net and gave Penn the lead.
The Red and Blue continued to dominate and prevented the Crimson from scoring an equalizer, but they failed to force Harvard goalkeeper Oskar Nilsson into action for a stretch after their first goal.
It looked like the score would remain 1-0 entering halftime, until the Quakers recovered the ball in the defensive area and connected it quickly to offense. The rapid counterattack caught the Harvard back line off guard, which allowed sophomore forward Matt Leigh to control the ball and pass it to wide-open midfielder Anthony Rovito. The sophomore hit a shot into the left side of the net, far enough to give Nilsson no chance of saving it and earn him his first career goal.
In the final 45 minutes, the teams switched roles. Penn played further back, while Harvard kept more possession; nonetheless, the Red and Blue diverted any dangerous attempts at goal. The solid defensive performance — which has been one of the Quakers’ main strengths this season — was culminated by sophomore goalkeeper Dane Jacomen, who was put to the test a few times throughout the half.
The best opportunity for Harvard came with five minutes left to play, when the Crimson were awarded a free kick. Willem Ebbinge took a near-perfect shot to the top-left corner of the goal, requiring Jacomen to jump into a diving save to secure the shutout — and a second-place finish in the Ivy League standings, only behind Yale.
The victory was also the last game for five graduating seniors: defenders Casey Barone and Promise Adebayo-Ige and midfielders Dami Omitaomu, Karim Hussamy and Bartel.
There’s still a long time before anyone can tell how the Quakers will respond to losing its most experienced players — including two-year captain Bartel, who has been Penn’s central piece on the field, taking almost every free kick and corner and finishing with 12 career assists. In the meantime, the Red and Blue have plenty of reasons to look forward to the future.