One year ago, the Harvard men's soccer team journeyed to Duke Soccer Field in Durham, N.C. for an NCAA semifinal contest against the Blue Devils. Today, the Crimson booters take to Riggs Field in Clemson, S.C. for yet another semifinal showdown, this time against San Diego State University.
Hmmm...parallelism. Semifinal, semifinal. Carolina, Carolina.
Now, during the baseball off-season, you've got the hot stove league. Sports-minded folk inclined to ruminate about our national pastime sit around and yak about stats and trades and rookies and immortals.
And unless you've already booked a flight for Clemson, or hooked up with a vanload of friends headed for points south, you have no choice this weekend but subscribe to the hot-stove-league philosophy of soccer fandom.
Just remember, Harvard's finals don't fall until after Christmas Break. So, if you're stranded in Cambridge, put your mind to some use--cozy up to the fire and ponder the following before the whistle blows on today's contest.
The Weather: According to the latest reports, today's temps in the Carolinas will hover around the 50s. Duke wasn't exactly balmy last year, although the temperature in Durham exceeded that in Cambridge by a good 20 degrees.
All of which is fine and dandy--it's not like Harvardians don't know that the only reason most people choose to attend southern schools is a pitiable inability to cope with the trials of a New England winter. The Crimson booters have braved Ohiri wind chill all season, and remain undefeated on the year. So let Carolinians and Californians bask in 50-degree weather clear on into February--it just doesn't matter.
The Semis: The last time Harvard reached the NCAA semifinals, it lost to Duke, 3-1. The Crimson's other semifinal appearances yielded a 1-0 loss to Howard in 1971 and a 2-1 loss to St. Louis in 1969. That's a combined score of Semifinal Opponents 6, Harvard 2. In other words, last year's contest--in which a pair of tallies by Duke standout John Kerr powered the Devils past the Crimson--hit perfectly on the proper 3:1 ratio. To be consistent today, Harvard will have to lose by a score of 3-1, or 6-2, or 9-3, or 12-4...
The Hype: Talk all you want about the enormity of today's game. Sure, Harvard's been shooting for an NCAA team championship since 1904. But let's put things in perspective. Odds are that no current Harvard student was alive in 1904, and that probably holds true for Harvard administrators as well.
And for those of us who can even comprehend 83-year time stretches, think of all the other sports-related things that Harvard hasn't had since at least 1904: an indoor swimming pool in the Quad, a jai-alai team, an obstacle course, bowling lanes. So who needs an NCAA title, anyways?