The Harvard men's lacrosse team was a no-ends sort of squad this season.
Rather than set any specific goals for the year, like, for example, an Ivy League championship, the team (5-8 overall, 2-4 Ivy) focused on qualitative goals, aiming to develop its young talent.
"We weren't obsessed with ends so much as means," senior captain Mike Porter says. "The goal was to get better, period. If other things were going to happen, they would happen. We just focused on getting better for the future, on setting the stage for next year."
In trying to realize that goal, the team was an unambiguous success.
Offensively, a number of younger players got valuable experience and even carried the team, as evidenced in the fact that all four of the squad's top scorers--sophomore Mike Eckert (16 goals, 40 assists), sophomore Chris Wojcik (27 goals, 13 assists), junior Steve Gaffney (25 goals, nine assists) and junior Jamie Ames (29 goals, one assist)--were non-seniors.
Defensively, younger players formed the core of the starting unit and, although they struggled at first, gradually improved throughout the year.
"The younger players undoubtedly meshed well into the system," Porter says. "Their progress throughout the year was greater than that of any team members I've seen since I've been here."
while the team's progress was impressive, its results, the ends of its means-oriented efforts, were less inspiring.
In truth, the team's play was at best spotty.
On some occasions it was very impressive, perhaps giving indication of just how good it might be with more experience.
At other times, however, it painfully showed what a lack of experience can do to a team.
Unfortunately, in the end, the latter moments proved more numerous.
The season started off on a relatively good note. The team opened the year with a nice 11-7 win at Army, and then, after dropping a 12-11 overtime decision to Boston College in weather conditions alternating between hail and snow, traveled to Philadelphia to nab in impressive 14-13 overtime win over a tough Quaker squad.
At that point in the season, the team began talking about national rankings. It was ranked as high as 17th at the time, and was looking to advance even higher.
That sort of general optimism continued to flow through its next two games.