They should never have been teammates.
By all rights, Derek Mills and John Catliff should have passed in the night, never getting a chance to lead the Harvard men's soccer team to a 5-2 victory over Brown Saturday.
Perhaps they would have met at alumni gatherings, or seen each other's names in the record books.
And if it weren't for the anterior cruciate ligaments in Catliff's right knee--which he tore the summer after his junior year, forcing him to sit out last season--they would never have shared the turf for the Crimson.
But with second-semester senior Catliff back for his final fall at Ohiri Field and freshman Mills on the roster--after sitting out most of the season awaiting an NCAA eligibility ruling--the duo has finally come together midway through 1986.
And what a duo: before 17 minutes had passed in Saturday's contest, Catliff and Mills had teamed up on a pair of goals to give Harvard a lead it never surrendered.
Mills went on to record a hat trick as the Crimson (now 5-2-3 overall, 3-0-2 Ivy) stayed on track in its bid for Cambridge's first Ivy League soccer title since 1970.
The Ancient Eight race is still very much up in the air, with both Harvard and Yale (3-0-1 Ivy) undefeated in League play. The Crimson hosts the Elis--New England's number-two squad--November 22, in a game that could determine the Ivy championship.
Saturday, however, the Crimson needed to get past Brown (now 6-6-0 overall, 0-5-1 Ivy) in order to keep its Ivy plans rolling.
Playing with a strong wind at their backs--and Mills and Catliff on their front line--the booters didn't waste any time establishing the tenor of the game.
With 10 minutes gone, Catliff worked a pass to Mills, who eluded the Bruin defense and found himself face-to-face with goalie Terry Stanoch. Mills faked left and touched the ball right past an off-balance Stanoch for Crimson goal number one.
Six minutes later, Mills stole the ball from Brown back Steve Thomas near midfield and broke toward the net. Confronted by sweeper Charles Fishman, Mills directed the ball across the field to Catliff--who sent a line shot past Stanoch to boost Harvard's lead to two.
"[Mills is] a superb player," Crimson Coach Jape Shattuck said, "a good honest player. He's got a lot of excellent qualities as a striker. We're trying to involve both John Catliff and Derek Mills more frequently, getting balls from everyone on the team."
Democracy came into effect late in the half, with some new faces playing supporting roles in the scoring act.
Freshman Richard Knight--substituting for forward Ramy Rajballie--crossed a bullet pass to Nick Hotchkin, who lined the ball off the right post. Mills picked up the rebound and tapped it into the net for his second goal of the afternoon.
And with less than two minutes left in the half, Hotchkin drove a corner kick high into the left corner of the net.
Although the visitors had the wind behind them in the second half, they couldn't make up the four-goal deficit. Harvard's final score of the afternoon--a Mills tally with 1:35 remaining in the second half--was sandwiched between a pair of meaningless Brown goals.
"I didn't expect [the Bruins] to be as good as they were," Shattuck admitted. "I think they were a lot better than the score indicated."