BURLINGTON, Vt.--The Harvard women's soccer team finished a disappointing fourth in the EAIAW Eastern regional championships held at the University of Vermont over the weekend, falling Saturday in the semifinals to Cortland State, 2-1, and dropping a 1-0 decision to the University of Massachusetts yesterday in the consolation game.
Cortland's Red Dragons, seeded last in the tournament, blew out the University of Connecticut, 5-2, in yesterday afternoon's finals to wrap up their second straight Eastern title. They shared the championship with Harvard last year after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie in the finals.
The Easterns mark the second tournament weekend in a row that the Crimson has lost, 2-1, in the semifinals to the eventual champion. In last week's Ivies in New Haven, Conn., Brown ended the Crimson's chances in the semis.
The two morning losses also put the Crimson's season tournament record at 0-3 before lunchtime. In the afternoon and at night, the record stands at 3-0. In any case, the very, very cold Vermont air provided a rude awakening for the Crimson booters, especially the offense.
Yes, the offense. The once-vaunted Crimson offense that scored seven goals in one game during the regular season suddenly forgot that the idea of taking a shot is to put the ball in the net.
Sixty-four times in the two games, Crimson sharpshooters took aim at the opposing goalie. And 63 times they missed. The tell-all statistic--the opposing goalies made a total of 23 saves. So where did the rest of the shots go?
A good guess would be that 25 cleared the crossbar, the majority of them just barely missing their target. Some even hit the crossbar. The rest went wide to the left and to the right. Shots flew everywhere except in the net.
In the second halves of both games, the Crimson had 20 shots on goal, outshooting the other team by at least five. Most of them came in the last ten minutes with the booters frantically trying to get the equalizer, pressuring the opposing defense, but failing to convert when it counted most.
The saying goes that if you've got good defense, then you've got it all, and the Crimson defense, especially fullbacks Kelly Gately and Wendy Sonnabend and keeper Ann Diamond, had a strong weekend. But to win, you've got to finish with more goals than the other team and to do that you've got to score goals.
Cortland State proved in the final that it could put the ball in the net, but against Harvard, it had to work hard for goals. Diamond made many excellent saves in the first half, and Gately continually thwarted any Red Dragon moves down her sideline.
The Harvard offense looked alive, too, getting some good shots and generally dominating the play. But at 43:07 Cortland's leading scorer, Heather Brendel, burst out of the midfield alone and beat Diamond to the right after the Crimson keeper came out of the net, for a 1-0 Cortland lead.
Cortland added insurance and what turned out to be the game-winning goal at 10:29 of the second half. After a lot of scrambling and several missed opportunities on an open net, wing Cydney Archer slid the ball over the line from just two feet out for a 2-0 advantage.
Harvard turned up the tempo and at 33:56, Sue St. Louis blasted a beautiful shot from a long way out, over the out-stretched hands of leaping Cortland goalie Joan Schockow and in, to cut the Cortland advantage to 2-1, but the Crimson could do no more than look to the consolation game.
Once again, as in its win against Harvard in Cambridge two weeks ago, UMass passed the ball from player to player, creating good opportunities, while Harvard seemed to pass without thinking, sending the ball to areas and then losing control.