This is the stuff upsets are made of.
The University of Pennsylvania men's soccer team had not won an Ivy League contest all season. The Harvard men's soccer team had not lost an Ivy League contest all season.
And sure enough, the lowly Quakers stunned the Crimson, 3-0, last night in front of more than 1500 spectators at Philadelphia's Franklin Field.
The upset knocked the Crimson out of contention for its first Ancient Eight crown since 1970--and rendered meaningless Harvard's upcoming regular-season contest against Yale scheduled to take place Wednesday afternoon at Ohiri Field.
The booters needed victories against both Penn and Yale to capture the Ancient Eight crown. By losing last night, the Crimson (now 8-3-3 overall, 3-1-2 Ivy) handed the Ivy crown to the Elis (11-2-1, 5-0-1 Ivy), who are currently undefeated in league play.
Before Wednesday rolls around, however, the Crimson must face the Elis in a match-up that is, decidedly, far from meaningless: the opening round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
Thus, perhaps the Crimson's most dangerous opponent last night was its own NCAA expectations. Penn figured to provide little competition; a potential national title loomed just around the corner.
While the booters looked to the future, the Quakers crept up and socked them from behind.
Nonetheless, last night's loss has no bearing--except, of course, a psychological one--on Harvard's NCAA program. The booters host Yale in NCAA action tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to second-round play against Boston University November 23.
The victor in that contest will play the New York regional champion--either Hartwick or Long Island University--the following weekend.
Last night's loss--under the lights, on artificial turf--was reminiscent of the Crimson's previous loss, a 2-1 decision (at night, on turf) against Boston University at Nickerson Field October 29.
Since that time, Harvard had posted a 4-0 record, including an 8-1 explosion against the University of Massachusetts a week-and-a-half ago.
But last night, the Quakers struck early and never relinquished their lead. Freshman Tom Constantino, Penn's leading scorer, tallied off Crimson goalie Chad Reilly 20 minutes into the game.
The Quakers changed netminders at the half, substituting senior Dan Williams for freshman Mike Tepper. Williams preserved the shutout--and his teammates provided him with some insurance goals, as freshman Rich Baruch tallied off assists from Penn Co-Captain Jack Dies at 57:28 and 75:55.
THE NOTEBOOK: Penn is not a newcomer to the role of spoiler: the Quakers recently earned a tie for first place in the Philadelphia Soccer Seven Championship by shutting out first-place Temple, 4-0...The Quakers held the edge in corner kicks, 5-2, and shots on goal, 8-5...The only previous time Harvard had failed to score this season was October 11, when it tied Cornell, 0-0, in overtime.
Quakers, 3-0 at Franklin Field
First half: 1, P, Mike Constantino (Jack Dies) 20:46.
Second half: 2, P, Rich Baruch (Dies) 57:28; 3, P, Baruch (Dies) 75:55.
Saves: P, Mike Tepper 1, Dan Williams 2; H, Chad Reilly 3. Harvard (8-3-3) 0-0--0 Penn (7-7-1) 1-2--3