HARVARD -- The Harvard U19 summer soccer club emerged victorious in its home opener with Mid-Wach foe Oakmont 2-1.
The host Trojans outshot Oakmont 27-9 in the match.
The skies opened and gave way to rain, but the pitch at Harvard Park remained in very good shape. Harvard head coach Nathaniel Adelson said that it was a tale of two halves for his club in the French River opener.
"In the first half we had the offense going," said Adelson on his team's first-half performance. "We were getting the chances and in the first half we actually did a better job putting away a couple of chances. We were more solid defensively, and they didn't really threaten us at all. "
Harvard dictated the tempo from the opening whistle, and Oakmont goalkeeper Patrick Purpora appeared to be up for the challenge. Purpora turned away solid scoring chances by Harvard's James Lorenz-Kruk and Mark Ferguson. The Harvard club continued to impose its will on the Oakmont defense, and it eventually paid dividends. .
James Kellogg synched up with Adam Lorenz-Kruk for Harvard's first tally of the afternoon in the 10th minute. Kellogg curled the ball inside the goal with a wicked pace, and it found the foot of Lorenz-Kruk. The Oakmont defense broke down, and Lorenz-Kruk took advantage of the miscue.
Lorenz-Kruk settled the ball at his feet took a couple of steps and sent a wind-slicing low-shot past the out-stretched mitts of Purpora to make it 1-0 Harvard.
"That was a really good shot," said Adelson. "It was kind of a scrambled play. The shot was low, and the goalie had no chance to save it. It was totally a legit goal. James (Kellogg) passed more today than I've ever seen him do before."
The Harvard side continued to make it a challenging afternoon for Purpora, but the goaltender managed to steer away, shot after shot.
Matt Olejarz was the beneficiary of an Oakmont foul inside the 18-yard box, which set the stage for a penalty kick in the 10th minute. Olejarz spotted up his shot, and curled it inside the left pipe to extend Harvard's lead to 2-0.
Harvard carried its two-goal advantage into the second half, but that is when the Oakmont offense showed some signs of life.
"The first half was pretty promising," said Adelson. "I was pretty pleased with that, but the second half, it was as if we thought we were up by more than we really were. It was the second half that we kind of let down a little bit and let some chances through."
An inadvertent handball set up a penalty kick for Oakmont forward Chase Hamel. A ball was curled into the 18-yard box and clipped the arm of a Harvard defender. Hamel struck the ball with the instep of his right foot and beat the diving Harvard goaltender right-side to bring Oakmont within one in the 8th minute of the second half.
Oakmont continued to press the ball into its offensive third, but the equalizer never snuck across the goal line. Harvard moves to 1-0-0 in the French River League, despite being without its starting goalie, Ryan Kennedy.
"We do generally have a pretty experienced team," said Adelson. "We have 10 seniors on this team which is a lot, especially for a small town like Harvard. We have one kid coming off eighth grade and a few more coming off freshman year. It was good to see those kids get some experience. Some of those kids will be on varsity in the fall.".