When No.15/23 Harvard entered the Top Drawer national women’s soccer rankings after just three games, more than a few eyebrows may have been raised. The Crimson had not been ranked by either Top Drawer or the United Soccer Coaches poll since November of 2016, when Top Drawer ranked Harvard 24th for one week before dropping the Crimson out of the rankings.
Harvard women’s soccer defeated Kansas 2-1 at Jordan Field on Sunday in a tight, cagey affair marred by several injuries. The Crimson maintained its undefeated record, improving to 6-0-1 in its final game before Ivy League play kicks off next Saturday.
With just two games separating Harvard from its Ivy League opener against Penn on Sept. 25, now is a good time to take a step back and consider the Crimson’s performance in its first five games. Harvard remains undefeated through five games for the first time since 1996, a season in which it went 15-2-0 overall and won all seven league games. It is an encouraging start to the season for a team with serious hopes of winning the Ivy League. Here are some takeaways from the opening few weeks of the season.
Harvard women’s soccer remained undefeated as it overcame St. John’s 3-2 in overtime at Jordan Field on Sunday afternoon thanks to a game-winning goal by first-year forward Hannah Bebar. The Crimson (3-0, 0-0 Ivy) rebounded after conceding two goals off corner kicks in the second half as it relinquished its 2-0 halftime lead.
After a hiatus of nearly two years, Harvard women’s soccer returned to action on Friday with a 1-0 home win over Fairfield University in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Ohiri Field.
“I think it's been hard for us in terms of the Ivy League schools, our basketball product hasn't been available for them to see,” Eskildsen said. “But ... if anything, I think people recognize how quick the Ivy League was to cancel the tournament back last year. And I think seeing that for putting the players and their health and safety first and foremost is a positive.”
Harvard women’s soccer’s Class of 2024 recruiting class is arguably the best in program history, with an incoming eight-member group ranked No. 5 in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer. Among the recruits are three of the country’s top-12 prospects and six players with national team experience.
On senior night, it was Brown’s senior sharpshooter Zach Hunsaker who stole the show at Lavietes Pavilion, snapping the Crimson's six game winning streak and sending Harvard to its first home defeat of the season.
Harvard held serve at home, edging Princeton and then Penn in tight games to avenge losses at the stadiums of the southernmost Ancient Eight schools and improve to 7-3 in league play, two games ahead of the fifth-best Quakers. Here are some takeaways from a crucial home sweep.
Five teams in the Ivy League are 5-3 or better. All five have reasonable hopes of challenging not only for a spot in the tournament but for at least a share of an Ancient Eight championship. Drama should abound these last three weeks, starting in Cambridge this weekend, where Harvard will welcome Penn and Princeton.