Penn men’s soccer (10-2-2, 4-1 Ivy) lost its 10-game unbeaten streak after an aggressive second half against the Harvard Crimson (8-4-3, 2-1-2), but the Quakers still held onto their No. 1 ranking in the Ivy League.
Until the 72nd minute, Penn held onto a one-goal lead, but thanks to two late scores by Harvard, the Quakers fell, 3-2, in a game that puts Penn in a more precarious position in the Ivy League, even with the still-No. 1 ranking.
Both teams saw an exciting first half, particularly the Quakers. Just 12 minutes in, Penn sophomore forward Charlie Gaffney did a simple one-two with senior midfielder Jack Rosener, who ran down the wing, cut inside, and delivered a cross to assist Isaac McGinnis. The senior midfielder finished the ball into the bottom-left corner with composure.
Penn's lead would not last for long, however. Just 10 minutes later, Harvard tied the score with midfielder Ethan Veghte’s header off a corner kick.
Despite being knocked down early, the Quakers got back up quickly. Only 39 seconds after the game was tied, Penn's super sophomore Stas Korzeniowski erased it with a quick counter-attack, receiving an assist from Gaffney, whose through ball gave the forward sufficient space and time to finish. Korzeniowski is now tied with graduate student forward and team captain Ben Stitz in goals for the season with nine apiece.
The attacking from both teams continued until the first-half whistle, but it turned out fruitless as the score of 2-1 stood going into halftime.
In the first 25 minutes of the second half, the Quakers created several chances through set pieces but could not expand their lead. Penn had some of its best scoring chances in the 57th minute, but shots by midfielders Michael Hewes and Aaron Messer, along with defender Leo Burney, all went either too high or wide. McGinnis also had two of his shots in the 48th and 69th minutes saved by Harvard goalkeeper Oskar Nilsson. Penn's senior goalkeeper Nick Christoffersen also saved a quality long shot diving to his left in the 54th minute, and Rosener made a goal-line clearance on another.
In the 72nd minute, however, Penn's wall of safety finally crumbled. Harvard re-tied the game at 2-2 on a goal from forward Alessandro Arlotti set up by a corner kick. In the next 13 minutes, the Red and Blue had their own chances to regain the lead on three separate corner kicks but were unable to capitalize on any of them. Those missed opportunities would prove to be their downfall.
With five minutes remaining in regulation, coming on the break on a shot left just short by Stitz, the Crimson took their first lead on a long shot goal by senior forward Martin Vician that gave them the lead until the whistle blew. Penn had their chances in the last five minutes, but shots by Messer and McGinnis missed or were saved, and the final score stood at 3-2 in favor of the Crimson, ending Penn's 10-game unbeaten streak.
The Quakers had 23 shots, out of which eight were on target. That total outnumbered Harvard, which had only six on-target shots out of 12 total attempts. However, the Quakers were unable to see the ball hit the back of the net during the second half despite numerous opportunities, while Harvard was able to make the most out of its chances, which proved to be the difference.
Earlier this week, Penn was ranked 15th in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll after last week’s tie with Drexel and victory against Brown. With this loss, the Quakers will likely drop in the polls but are still in a prime position to win their first Ivy League title since 2013.
In the Ivy League, Penn now leads at 12 points with a 4-1 conference performance. Cornell immediately follows with a 4-1 record and 12 points as well but remains behind Penn due to a tiebreaker. The final two games of the season will be vital in determining this year’s Ancient Eight champion.
Next up, Columbia will visit Penn Park on Nov. 5, and the regular season will conclude on Nov. 12 after the Quakers finish at Princeton.