Tape and Ice
The Soccer Notebook
Harvard men's soccer trainer B.J. Baker better start looking for specials on tape and ice.
Wrap jobs and cold packs have been in big demand in the Crimson locker room.
A run of pulls, bumps and bruises has left Harvard Coach Mike Getman with a short roster and Baker with nearly enough charges to field a team of his own.
Top returning forward Derek Mills sat out the first three games with a knee injury and still isn't 100 percent.
First-team All-Ivy back Mark Pepper has had to captain his team from the sidelines, tape around his injured quadricep.
Junior Gian D'Ornellas took over sweeper duties for Pepper in the opening two games, only to end up joining him on the sidelines for most of the last eight games.
Then Getman turned over the backfield position to freshman Nick Gates. Guess where he'll be sitting for Saturday's Harvard-Princeton match-up.
A muscle pull qualified Gates to join backfield buddies Pepper, D'Ornellas and junior Roger Chapman in the Crimson cheering corps for the past two weeks.
The dearth of defensemen forced Getman to move midfielder Richard Knight into the back and capitalize on a three midfielder-three forward combination.
But Knight got dethroned quickly--he'll be nursing a swollen knee during this weekend's contest.
Throw in the assorted bumps and bruises incurred over the season, and the Crimson booters have given new meaning to the term "walking wounded."
"We really haven't seen our "ideal team" in action yet," D'Ornellas said.
Forget the "ideal team." Getman's just hoping to see the same 11 players take the field twice this year.
"All the different combinations have really hurt us," Getman said. "It really makes it hard to build consistency."
Harvard's play has been as inconsistent as its line-up.
After netting eight goals against Brandeis three weeks ago, the offense went into a goal-a-game slump which was recently broken with three multiple-goal wins.
The defense, which started as the squad's weak link, turned around and carried the team during the mid-season.
But injuries and inconsistency haven't stopped the Crimson. An 8-0-2 overall record, the top spot in the Ivy League (3-0), and a fifth-place national ranking attest to Harvard's ability to adapt to all situations. The Crimson is the only team in the national top 10 sporting an undefeated mark.
"Not playing is always tough," D'Ornellas said. "But we have a lot of depth on the team, and we're still playing well."
The Ever-Present Midfield: Sandwiched between the taped-up front and back fields is a trio of midfielders who have played a key role for the Crimson this season. Senior Nick Hotchkin, junior Ramy Rajballie and sophomore Paul Baverstock have been solid contributors for Harvard--Rajballie leads the team in assists (six), Baverstock is tied for second-highest scorer with eight points, and Hotchkin has two goals and three assists for seven points.
Hall Call: Junior goalie Stephen Hall currently has 47 saves, an 0.58 goals-against average and a 90.4 save percentage. Hall and junior Chad Reilly--who earned his second win in Harvard's 5-1 triumph over Hartford Tuesday--have combined for five shutouts.