If the Harvard women's soccer team's 1993 campaign was being written up in a high school yearbook, the story's lead would be as follows:
"There are two ways to evaluate a team: one, in terms of wins and losses; and two, in terms of how hard it tried."
But since this is not exactly a high school yearbook, such niceties will be dispensed with: the squad (6-7-2 overall, 3-4 Ivy) had a rough year, one of its roughest in many moons, and on one on the team is going to deny it.
"To be honest, I don't think that anyone was really satisfied with how we played," senior goalie Brooke Donahoe says. "It was tough and, at times, painful."
Perhaps it would have been better if the team had low expectations going into the season--as usual, the Crimson expected to be good, and perhaps to win the league championship.
Or perhaps it would have been better if the team had been blown out in all of its games--Harvard played in an astounding five overtime games, posting a disappointing 1-2-2 mark, and lost two more games by two goals or less.
But, any way you look at it, this season hurt, and, if not for the help of an irrepressible postive morale, could have hurt a lot more.
"It certainly wasn't the best year we could have hoped for, but we got through it and we had fun," senior Laura Ashland says. "We're all great friends and that helped, but there were some tough times."
Unlike many losing campaigns, the Crimson's season was not marked by prolonged losing streaks or rollercoaster consistency. Rather, the team's downfall--its dearth of offensive potency--followed it like a vagrant puppy dog all season, killing its chances in close games, and merely hurting its chances in games which Harvard should have run away with.
The Crimson averaged only 1.5 goals per game all season.
"We seemed to have a problem getting the ball in the net," Donahoe says. "We couldn't get our offense to work a lot of the time."
"It seemed like all year we would get down by one goal early only to find that we couldn't do anything," Ashland says. "Our offense had some serious problems."
A good example of its offensive problems came in the season's culminating contest against Brown. Despite its misfortune throughout the season, the team still had a chance to make it to the ECAC tournament, if it only could get past the lowly Bears.
Brown got out to a quick start, going up 1-0 in the half, but the second half was all Harvard. The Crimson dominated the period offensively and defensively, and tied the game late in the period on a goal by junior Sara Simmons.
As the sun went down behind the clouds on a soggy field in Providence and the overtime period got started, the Crimson reached deep down for its missing offense and found... nothing.
The Bears scored twice to win, 3-1, and Harvard went home to catch up on its homework and think about next year.
Fortunately, that next year looks pretty bright.
"You're sort of in a weird position as a senior because you of course wish that you had helped the team do better, but you're also excited for everyone else that will be returning," Donahoe says. "I think they will have a great team."
If there was one major bright spot for the team, it was the play of its younger players. The team was dominated by freshman and sophomores who will only be more experienced next season.
Also, the team can take solace in the fact that it remained, until the end, a team: a group of good friends who got a lot out of playing soccer with each other.
Of course, that's just about like saying that they tried hard.
"I think each person will take out of this season what she got," Donahoe says. "For me, that was a lot--in terms of friends and camaraderie. But in terms of on-the-field memories, there won't be that many. At least not from this season."
Ivy League: 3-4
Key Players: Elizabeth Eynon (4 goals, 0 assists), Laura Lynon (3 goals, 2 assists), Brooke Donahoe (146 saves,.87 save%)
Seniors: Brooke Donahoe, Meg Berte, Martha Schneider., Laura Flynn