Warning: If you scoff at Harvard sports, reading this column might be detrimental to your health.
The fall of 1994 produced numerous fantastic finishes, individual accomplishments and a pair of Crimson teams that made it to NCAA championships.
And for the three of you who are still here in Cambridge on this glorious Tuesday, I'd like to submit my Top Ten List for best stories of the Fall of 1994. I know I'm leaving several notable events, but it just isn't possible to include everything.
10) Field Hockey vs. Northeastern. Store this one under the fantastic finish file. The eighth-ranked Huskies held a 1-0 lead over a struggling Crimson squad with little time left. The Crimson scored to tie with several minutes left, and as the regulation clock wound down, there was a mad scramble in front of the Northeastern net. 10...9...8...7...6...5..1. Score! Junior Mclanie Allen beat the clock and the Huskies with just four ticks left to pull off the massive upset.
9) Men's Hockey vs. Brown. For the first time ever, a game from Bright Hockey Center was being nationally televised. ESPN2 picked up the feed, and junior Tripp Tracy smiled for the cameras, stopping three breakaways en route to a 4-1 Crimson win, the team's best performance of the season to date.
8) The Game. All right, not everything on the list has to be happy. Harvard, playing without junior quarterback Vin Ferrara, fell to Yale in a game also televised by ESPN2. The Crimson scored first, but everything went downhill from there, as the Bulldogs won by a 32-13 count at Harvard Stadium. Harvard fans also came out looking bad, as a few of them started an ugly brawl on the Yale sidelines.
7) Women's basketball in the South Florida Holiday Tournament. Harvard, struggling since its 100-99 victory at Providence, knocked off both North Texas and Delaware to capture the title. What makes this win so much more special is that it marks the Crimson's first tournament championship outside of Cambridge since 1978.
6) Sophomore cross-country runner Ian Carswell achieved a great feat with his swift feet. Carswell placed first in District 1 in the ICAA Championships, earning him a spot in the NCAA Championships in November. Carswell finished 35th out of 185 runners, a mighty fine accomplishment.
5) Men's golf in the ECAC Tournament. The Crimson headed into the 21-squad ECAC Tourney back in October, and most people expected the Crimson to finish near the bottom. Not only did the team prove the experts wrong. Harvard finished first to boot.
4) The Harvard football season started off very promising, but it fizzled down the stretch. Sophomore running back Eion Hu, however, was simply unstoppable throughout the campaign. Hu, who win the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award, racked up 1011 yards--the second Crimson player ever to surpass the 1000-yard mark for a season.
3) Harvard women's soccer vs. Dartmouth. This one's a keeper for its dramatic finish. The 11th-ranked Big Green had the Crimson reeling in the final minutes of the next-to-last Ivy game, but the score remained tied at 1-1. Freshman Keren Gudeman corralled the ball, made an end-to-end rush and centered the ball to junior Sara Noonan for the game-winner with 1:00 left. This victory, more than anything else, earned the Crimson a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
2) Swimming's Harvard Invitational, December 2-4. The men and the women pulled off huge upsets, each team coming in first. The women drowned national powerhouse Florida to claim the top spot, while the men bumped off top-ranked Michigan and top-10 Florida to claim first place at Blodgett Pool.
1) Men's Soccer vs. Brown. This one had a tremendous story-line and produced one of the most dramatic finishes ever in Harvard sports. The Crimson had to beat the nationally ranked Bears to win a share of the Ivy title even though Harvard's overall record was far below .500. Furthermore, a berth in the NCAA Tournament was on the line, since Columbia would lose to Dartmouth.
Ninety minutes of regulation produced no goals. Then, late in the first overtime, freshman Toure McCluskey threaded a perfect lead pass to sophomore Kevin Silva, who was all alone for a breakaway.
Sophomore T.J. Carella sealed Harvard's improbably victory on a goal off a direct kick, and the overflow crowd of 2500 Harvard fans poured out onto the field to carry their heroes off.
That, if nothing else, is what sports should be all about.
Happy 1995, everyone.