Harvard handed Holy Cross their first home loss of the season on Tuesday night, after senior midfielder Cornelius Bencsik scored a peach from a late winner to settle a back-and-forth affair at 3-2.
Harvard (5-4-3, 0-1-2 Ivy) won their last non-conference game of the season, overtaking Holy Cross (8-4-2, 5-1-0 Patriot) in an entertaining game in Worcester. The Crimson struck first and last in the match, with the Crusaders tying the match in the first and second half before Harvard won the match with an outrageous first end in the 88th minute.
“I was actually thinking a lot while the ball was in the air. It’s one of those times in football, where you have almost too much time, and you think too much. I was thinking about dropping the ball and using my chest or my feet, but luckily for me my instincts took over when I saw the goalkeeper come out of his line, ”Bencsik said of the match winner. “It was really wonderful to score that goal. A nice last minute goal to win the game is always a great feeling.
It was a night that featured several notable performances for the Crimson, as Bencsik and second-year midfielder James Fahmy both scored one goal and one assist each, while junior forward Martin Vician scored for the fourth consecutive game. Second-year midfielder Willem Ebbinge has also recorded two assists, his fifth and sixth assists in his last four games, placing him among the team’s top eight this season.
Harvard quickly settled into the game, dominating the opening quarter hour, and he was rewarded with an early goal. Vician received a low cross from Bencsik in the eleventh minute, after the Brumunddal, Norway native found space on the right wing. It was Vician’s fourth goal in his last four games and his fifth of the season.
Holy Cross began to come to life after Crimson’s goal, dominating possession after the first fifteen minutes of the game. Although they didn’t create many clear chances with the possession, the Crusaders had eight shots in the first half against two for Harvard, and finally found the net in the 24th minute. Holy Cross converted a corner kick after whipping a dangerous ball to the front post, which was headed home for 1-1.
The Crimson came back to life after the break, settling into the game and scoring his second goal of the night in the 53rd minute. Ebbinge found space on the line and picked first-year striker Alessandro Arlotti in the box, who brilliantly faked a shot and ran over the ball, leaving the pass for a now wide-open Fahmy just inside the surface. Fahmy was right, curling the ball into the bottom corner for his college debut, which put Harvard back to 2-1.
The Crusaders hit back minutes later against the run of play, following an unfortunate turnaround near midfield by the Crimson, after Fahmy was hit in the back by a long pass from the Harvard defense. Holy Cross took advantage of the counterattack chance, finding space on the right side of the box and shooting home to tie the game two-handed.
As the game progressed into the final ten minutes, neither team could find a breakthrough, and it looked like the Crimson would play their sixth overtime list in twelve games. That changed in the 88th minute, when Fahmy threw a perfect mid-half-time ball from Holy Cross, which found Bencsik in space just inside the box. Bencsik flew the ball into the air with his first touch, passing the ball over the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net to seal the victory in a fierce game.
“It was a huge relief. We’ve been heading into overtime the last few weeks so it was great to get the job done in 90 minutes away from home, ”Ebbinge said of the late goal. “We aim to win the last four games and we look forward to playing the majority of them against Jordan in front of a home crowd.”
Harvard will then host Princeton this Saturday at 4 p.m. at Jordan Field as it prepares for its final four games, all of which will be against opponents from the Ivy League.
– Editor-in-Chief Eamon McLoughlin can be contacted at email@example.com.