Women's Ivy League hockey had always been a one-school show.
But in a year of newfound parity, Harvard, riding high in a tie for first place, hoped to be the team to capitalize on the Ivy free-for-all and replace three-time defending champ Princeton at the top of the heap.
Saturday, the Crimson learned that what parity gives, parity can just as easily take away.
The Tigers, 10-0 in the Ivies last season, but mired in the crowd and hovering around .500 all this year, administered the shock treatment, dealing Harvard a 2-0 blow.
"We're not out of it yet," said Crimson Coach John Dooley, who is still looking for his first title. "It's still wide open--anything can happen because we're all so very even."
Just look at the current standings--Brown (6-2) holds on to a slim one-game lead over both Harvard (5-3) and Princeton (4-2).
Then look at the games that these three squads have played against each other--the Bruins have twice beaten the Tigers, who have split the season series against the Cantabs, who have knocked off the Bruins not once, but twice.
The women's Ivy League hockey race resembles nothing so much as a three-way civil war with vague and constantly shifting alliances.
And no clear-cut winners--at least not yet.
Harvard and Brown, each have two league, games remaining on the schedule, with the Crimson travelling to Cornell and Dartmouth, and the Bruins trekking to Ithaca and hosting Princeton.
The Tigers also have two dates with the Big Green and one with the Big Red left before they conclude their Ivy tour.
As Yogi Berra would say, it's never over 'til it's over.
"A few inches either way, and we could have come out of there with a win," lamented Dooley after Saturday's loss.
Which must have been just what Princeton though in November, when it dropped a 4-3 squeaker at Bright Center.
"Being on your home rink gives you about a one goal advantage," Dooley noted.
That's exactly the margin that the Tigers held for most of the game.
Just four minutes into the first period. Princeton's pair of All-Ivy forward teamed up to put their squad on top. Laura Halldorson fed the puck to Gina Pictrangelo, who knocked it past Harvard goalie Tracy Kimmel for a 1-0 lead.
And that's where the score stayed for the next 41 minutes of play.
"We were flat," said Dooley. We just didn't have the aggressive tendencies we usually have to win."
The Crimson could produce only near-goals by forwards Liz Ward and Kelly Landry, and blueliner Julie Sasner.
And at 9:29 in the third stanza, freshman Katherine Savage wrapped up the scoring for the Tigers, nothing a goal off an assist from teammates Cynthia Griffin.
Princeton goalie, Sue Gouache got credit for the shutout, as she registered 12 save, in the afternoon. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, Kimmel stopped 17 shots.
Originally, we looked at this as a building year," said Dooley, who lost six players to graduation at the end of last season. "But as everything started to roll into place it proved to be more than just a building year. I still have very positive feelings about the rest of this season."
In a title race as close as this one, with squads as evenly-matched as Harvard. Princeton, and Brown, a positive outlook just might make the difference.