First the Harvard men's soccer team delivered a two-minute warning to the University of Massachusetts. Then the booters staged an 88-minute fun show.
By the time the massacre ended, the Crimson was rocking atop a lopsided 8-1 score--and the dazed Minutemen were beating a hasty retreat from Ohiri Field.
"This has never happened," said Crimson Coach Jape Shattuck, whose squad jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first two minutes of yesterday's blowout. "Seven [goals] is the most I can remember--but never so many against such a good team."
The booters tallied seven times in a 7-1 thrashing of Tufts in 1984--but expected the Minutemen to put up more of a fight than the Jumbos.
UMass (now 9-10-0) entered yesterday's contest ranked seventh in New England. Harvard (6-2-3), on the other hand, stood third among New England squads in yesterday morning's Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America regional poll.
As a result, the Crimson is still in the running for one of two New England berths in the post-season NCAA tournament.
Boston University (15-1-2), which edged Harvard, 2-1, last week, is assured of a spot in the national tourney as the region's top team. Number two Yale (9-1-1) comes to Cambridge November 22 for a key Ivy League showdown.
Harvard's NCAA fate will be determined long before the official regular-season closeout against the Elis rolls around, however. Bids will be sent out Sunday--as the Crimson returns from a weekend junket to the University of Tampa Tournament.
But if a New England squad captures this weekend's Big East championship, Harvard could be out of luck. The Big East winner receives an automatic NCAA bid, and the University of Connecticut (fourth in New England, 12-6-2) could earn a shot at post-season glory--and eliminate Harvard--with a victory at the tournament.
Yesterday, however, one fact overwhelmed all the tourney-time speculation: the fact of Harvard's metamorphosis into a veritable scoring machine.
After tallying a total of 13 goals over its first seven contests, the Crimson has put 18 points on the board in its last four.
"We've finally become a team," Shattuck said. "It's taken us so long to get the right combination, but we've finally got it."
The combination first clicked a little over a minute into the game, when freshman Derek Mills--last week's Ivy League Player of the Week for his hat trick performance against Brown--scored off a Ramy Rajballie pass in front of the net.
Mills got into the act again at the two-minute mark, dropping the ball to Captain Paul Nicholas, who knocked it past UMass goalie Sam Ginzburg.
Sixteen minutes later, Ginzburg came out of the game after being shaken up on a scramble in front of the net--and hence was spared the humiliation heaped upon his back-up, Tom Phillips.
Phillips held the Crimson to just one additional goal in the first half. But come the second half, Phillips managed only three saves, while allowing five Harvard shots to slip into the net.
When the clock finally ran out on Phillips' torture session, a trio of Crimson booters--Rajballie, Nick Hotchkin and John Catliff--could each lay claim to a pair of goals.
After travelling to Florida this weekend the Crimson returns north for an Ivy match-up at the University of Pennsylvania November 14.
Crimson, 8-1 at Ohiri Field
First half: 1, H, Derek Mills (Ramy Rajballie) 1:22; 2, H, Paul Nicholas (Mills) 2:00; 3, H, John Catliff (Mills) 35:36.
Second half: 4, H, Nick Hotchkin (Catliff) 47:22; 5, H, Hotchkin (unassisted) 50:14; 6, H, Hotchkin (Mills) 51:37; 7, H, Catliff (F.J. Gould) 69:22; 8, H, Rajballie (Nicholas) 71:49; 9, M, Kurt Manal (Steven Cesnek) 72:48.
Saves: H, Chad Reilly 5; M, Sam Ginzburg 3, Tom Phillips 5. Harvard (6-2-3) 3-5--8 Massachusetts (9-10-0) 0-1--1