If a team has stood around outside in cold air for two hours before its game, if its top scorer doesn't get a goal, and if its opponents keep it hemmed in its own half for much of the first 40 minutes of play, can that team really be expected to win? If that team is the Harvard women's soccer squad it can, as the Crimson demonstrated Friday, capping what coach Bob Scalise called a "super year" with a 2-0 shut out over Yale.
It may be cliched to say so, but Harvard gained the victory over the Bulldogs through a team effort. In the opening stanza goalie Irene Kacandes, and the fullbacks and halfbacks in front of her played the key role, repeatedly thwarting the Elis attempt to score. In the second half, the forwards took control, netting the second Crimson goal, then utilizing the best form of defense, offense to keep Yale scoreless.
As the contest began, Scalise's portentious words, spoken before the opening whistle, Harvard "is cold and flat," seemed only too prophetic. Yale's speedy right wing. Betsy Rapperport, and her counterpart on the left, Nancy Erzwhiler, spearheaded Eli attacks which kept the Crimson deep in their own half of the large field.
The Bulldogs almost tallied twice but left fullback Wendy Sands and left halfback Gia Johnson saved the Crimson by swooping in to make tackles and prevent shots from close in.
When the Crimson finally broke out of their own end after eight minutes of Eli pressure they scored. With Yale goalie Wendy Brewer out of position as an Ellen Hart shot rebounded out to the left side of the penalty area, Julie Bryntson knocked the ball into a gaping hole on the right side of the net.
After recovering from the shock of the Crimson goal, Yale began to pester the Harvard goal mouth again. They almost scored late in the half but Crimson goalie Kacandes foiled Eli left wing Erzwhiler with a fine above-the-head save.
Kacandes played her best game of the year against Yale, not only making this save, but also stopping many an Eli attack by coming out from between the posts to pick the ball up at the edge of the penalty area.
By the beginning of the second 40 minute period the Crimson had shaken off the last of the effects of their pre-game wait in the cold and they more than reversed Yale's domination of the first half.
Harvard played this half much more aggressively, hounding the Elis closely rather than laying off them when Yale had the ball and passing more effectively through and over the host defenders.
The Crimson pressure almost led to a goal after 15 minutes of the last half as Ellen Hart hit the inside of the right post with a right-footed shot. The ball rebounded out to the usually reliable Sue St. Louis, who proved that despite being a saint she is fallible, as she booted the ball over the crossbar from 15 feet in front of the goal.
Harvard's persistent attack did lead to a goal ten minutes later as center halfback Kathy Batter placed a shot from 25 yards into the left corner of the goal.
The women's soccer team's season began with a disappointing 4-3 loss to Bowdoin. It ended, however, with four straight victories which gave the Crimson a fine 9-2-1 record on the year. If all's well that ends well, then Scalise and his players can look back on the season just completely assured in the knowledge that all is very well indeed, thank you, with the Harvard women's soccer team.