Kansas soccer fell to No. 19 Harvard Sunday despite a strong second-half push. The Jayhawks had a handful of key performances that helped them stay in the game.
Kansas (5-4-1) extended their stay in the northeast with a bout against No. 19 Harvard (6-0-1). It was the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The Jayhawks, coming off a 2-1 win over Dartmouth on Thursday, looked to improve to six wins on the season.
Counterattacking was the name of the game for the Jayhawks in the first half. With KU being primarily a defensive team, counterattacking was something head coach Mark Francis stressed the most heading into the season.
Harvard, with their high-octane offense, was devastated after they lost three of their top attackers to injury during the first half.
As the half progressed, the Jayhawk defense was starting to bend. After a bunch of chances for the Crimson, one eventually found the net. Junior midfielder Ava Lung slotted home the remnants of a corner kick in the 31st minute to take a first-half lead over Kansas.
Harvard extended their lead with 30 seconds left in the half when sophomore Megan Mackey found the back of the net on a tailor-made Crimson goal.
The half ended with a barrage of Jayhawk chances, but all went begging and sent KU into the break with a two-goal deficit.
As soon as the second half kicked off, Mark Francis’ squad had a fresh look to it. The Jayhawks were attacking with force, imposing their will on the Crimson.
The Jayhawks were eventually rewarded for their efforts when Crimson keeper Hannah Gardner mishandled the ball, and Jayhawk freshman Magali Gagné capitalized in the 65th minute, cutting Harvard’s lead in half.
In her first start as a Jayhawk, redshirt junior keeper Emilie Gavillet was arguably the best player on the field for Kansas. She was one of the main reasons the Jayhawks stayed in the bout and Kansas fans should be thrilled about her potential with this team.
The second half was certainly won by Kansas, outshooting Harvard 11-6 in the period and scoring the goal to cut Harvard’s lead in half. In the end, the Jayhawks could not find an equalizer and drop to 5-4-1 on the season.
KU kicks off Big 12 play with a trip to Fort Worth to take on TCU next Thursday. Coverage will start at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.