Striking 'Silva' With Crimson Soccer

Harvard is Hunting for an Ivy Crown, And This Sophomore's Success is Crucial

Q: What is the only place on earth where Silva is more valuable than gold?

A: The Harvard men's soccer team.

Alright, Chris Bermanesque name-games aside. Sophomore Kevin Silva has been a perennial force for the Crimson over the past two years.

After leading the team in scoring as a freshman. Silva broke out of an eight-game scoring slump to tally two goals against Yale last Sunday in a 4-1 Harvard win, reasserting his role as the team's leading scorer once again. Silva also comes in at third in the Ivy league in scoring, with three goals (for six points).

With such an impressive rookie season under his belt, one might expect Silva to sing praises of his freshman campaign. But as the West Chester, Pa. native will tell you, "It was tough adjusting to the overall physicalness of [college soccer]."

With a track record of success throughout his pre-Harvard soccer career, Kevin certainly was prepared for the rigors of college athletics. His club team from West Chester won the national championship, a team which featured not only Silva, but also Harvard players Will Kohler, T.J. Carella and Tariq Jawad.

Silva also fondly remembers the high-school game in which he scored his 100th career goal.

Kevin gained more valuable soccer experience through his family tree. His brother had a successful college career playing soccer for Washington and Lee, a Division III powerhouse, and he was as much of a hero as anyone to Silva while growing up in rural Pennsylvania.

"I used to watch my brother play and go home and try to imitate the moves and skills that he had," he says.

After such a successful prep career, Silva narrowed down his college choices to other soccer powerhouses such as Duke, Notre Dame, Dartmouth and Princeton. But why Harvard?

"Not only did the academics [play a major role], but I knew that Harvard was getting a new coach who was also bringing in other strong recruits," Silva says. "Harvard was an up-and-coming program that would be strong soon."

Some of the team's forecasted success has come sooner than most people thought. Going into this weekend, second-place Harvard can clinch the Ivy championship with consecutive wins over the other top-four league teams: Princeton, Dartmouth and Brown.

With the huge games looming on the horizon, Silva describes the practices just as might be expected: "Everyone's pretty psyched up... practices are intense, but our spirits are up."

As for what the sophomore Mather House resident and government concentrator thinks the key will be for the Crimson to win those games, he sums it up in one word: "Confidence."

"We definitely have the skill and talent to win--we just have to get ready [mentally]," he says.

That task will certainly not be an easy one. But Harvard already went through an eight-game slump this season (only one win), and Silva did his best not to become mentally bogged-down.

"I was playing well but the scoring came tough," he says. "[Head] Coach [Stephen Locker] told me to stay focused and just concentrate on playing the game--the goals would come." Locker proved himself right when Silva pumped in two goals to seal the romp over Yale.

The superstitious player also makes sure his cleats are polished and laid out next to his bed the night before each game. Silva even puts every piece of his uniform on the same way for each contest, and he always makes sure that the sounds of Pearl Jam fill his cars for preparation.

As for where Kevin sees himself in five years, his immediate reply is "graduate school somewhere," but then his love of the sport takes over."

"Maybe I'd could play over in Germany for a couple of years, since America has so very few opportunities," he says. "I think Coach has some connections over there."

But with the future looking bright for Silva and the Crimson, and don't look for Coach Locker to send Silva abroad quite yet.