HARVARD – It was anything but easy, but the Harvard boys soccer team found a way to beat Marengo for the second time this season, 3-1, Monday night.
The Hornets broke a 1-1 tie with two goals in the final 12 minutes to sneak out a big Northern Conference East Division victory.
The Hornets' senior night did not start out according to plan. Marengo struck first just 10 minutes into the game with a free kick from Miguel Cortez from midfield.
Cortez’s shot floated over everyone in the penalty area, including Harvard goalkeeper Jose Ortiz, for the game’s opening goal. The goal came after the Hornets seemed to be well in control early on.
“It’s a game of ups and downs and controlled most of the possession but couldn’t quite get successful shots on net,” Harvard coach David Abel said.
After several great chances inside the box, Harvard (12-5-2 overall, 6-2-2 BNC East) scored in the 21st minute on a goal from Fernando Mercado off a great feed from Jerry Martinez.
The Indians (5-11-1, 4-5-1) seemed to be on the cusp of taking the lead several times early in the second half and were either denied by Ortiz or barely missed the net. Ortiz made five saves in the game for Harvard, with some of the more difficult variety.
Martinez broke the tie with 12 minutes remaining after a terrific pass from Mauricio Mercado that set him up to beat the last Marengo defender and slide the ball past the keeper.
“We continued to plug away and do the stuff that we do, and stuck to our game plan," Abel said. "I felt it was only a matter of time till we got something in their net.”
Senior Angel Sanchez added an insurance goal for Harvard three minutes later. Ismael Albarran crossed the ball on a free kick to the back post, where Sanchez was waiting for the game-clinching header.
“I told our players to play with passion and with their hearts today, and it feels amazing to win on my last game here,” Sanchez said. "This is going to stick with me forever."
The Indians played tough all game despite only having 12 available players. Marengo was missing several players because of injury or ineligibility and lost starting goalkeeper Dylan Marks to an elbow injury in pregame warmups.
“I thought my kids played very hard; we really hustled and believed that we could still win the game despite everything going against us outside of the game,” Marengo coach James McKinnon said.
Both teams have two more regular-season games this week before the regional playoffs start next week.