"This is your chance for immortality," Coach Carole Kleinfelder told the Harvard women's lacrosse team before yesterday's game against the South Australian All-Star team.
The Aussies had other ideas, though, and rolled over the Crimson, 22-3, before 75 spectators at Soldiers Field.
Mud is sometimes called the "great equalizer," and the rain came pouring down yesterday. There is a limit, however, to how much an effect Mother Nature can have.
The game was never close, as the Australians jumped out to an 8-3 lead at halftime. The second half was even more lopsided, as the team from Down Under scored 14 unanswered goals, giving the Crimson its worse loss of the year.
"I think this is the best women's team in the world," Australian Coach Peter Koshnitsky said.
He would get little argument from Harvard.
"They execute back door cutting really well," Kleinfelder said.
Several Australian goals came from beautiful pinpoint passing and well-timed cuts. The Aussies found themselves with great open shots througout the game. Goalie Kelly Dermody made several spectacular saves, keeping the score respectable in the first half.
On the whole, the All-Stars were more experienced than their American opponents. Only three Australian players were teenagers, while several were more than 30 years of age. "They are a seasoned team," Kleinfelder said.
The Australians are touring in preparation for next summer's world championships. The squad was selected in February after a long tryout period. They have already played several games, losing only to top ranked Temple, 6-4.
Not Bad For Amateurs
In Koshnitsky's estimation, Harvard is the second or third best team they have encountered.
"Temple beat us. We beat Maryland, 9-8, but we didn't play well, and we had just gotten off the plane. Today was one of our best games," Koshnitsky said. "Harvard is a good team."
The All-Stars showed why they are the defending world champions. They captured the title in Philadelphia in 1986 and will entertain challengers in Perth, in the summer of 1989.
For Harvard, the experience was also a successful one. "It was fun to watch such a great team," Co-Captain Leelee Groome said. "We knew we could learn a lot from them, but I hoped we could have been more competitive. They are really neat girls, and it was fun."
Harvard must now turn its attention to its next few games. Harvard is shooting for the Ivy League title and a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson next sees action Wednesday against Brown. In that game and others down the road, the Harvard players hope to use some of the tricks that they learned yesterday from their friends Down Under.
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