Ninth-Ranked Men's Soccer Meets Ivy Rival Dartmouth
Nobody likes the king of the mountain, and that's the role the Harvard men's soccer team finds itself in. However, one would be hard-pressed to find a member of the team who is dissatisfied with its position.
Although a nearly impeccable record might leave some teams feeling complacent, the Crimson (11-1-0, 4-1 Ivy) still has the hunger to win and a fortitude of will that simply will not accept defeat. These qualities along with its amazing athleticism have propelled the team to the ninth ranking in the national Coach's Poll, as well as the top spot in the Ivy League.
Unfortunately for Dartmouth, Harvard is not willing to relinquish either of these positions of which the players are deservedly proud.
The Crimson hosts the Green Wave today at 11 a.m. on Ohiri Field in a game many expect will be a premiere matchup between two of the creme de la creme of the league.
The game tomorrow could possibly clinch the Ivy League championship for Harvard, a feat that has eluded the Crimson for the last two years. As many of the players are aware, Harvard is the only team in the league that controls its own destiny.
Dartmouth, who lost to Cornell last Saturday in a tough match that went into overtime, can not be over-looked.
"It's all on the line," captain Will Kohler said.
There is no shortage of motivating factors for the Crimson going into the game tomorrow.
The Ivy League champion this year receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, a fact not lost on the players. The more experienced athletes also live with the bitter memory of a loss to Dartmouth last year, a loss their coaches not infrequently reminded them of all week.
It is a defeat they are determined to avenge.
Dartmouth is led by senior midfielder Methembe Ndlovu, a native of Zimbabwe. Harvard's defense will pay special attention to the Green Wave's leading scorer, but the team is not overly worried.
Harvard not only has the Ivy League's leading scorer in junior Tom McLaughlin, it also boasts two of the best goalies in the league, including senior Peter Albers, who shut out Fairfield last Wednesday, and sophomore Jordan Dupuis, who is ranked third in the nation in goal percentage.
"We have so many weapons...we're not going to adjust our style for them," said McLaughlin. "We're going to try to impose our style on them."
Sophomore midfielder Armando Petruccelli will play tomorrow, solidifying the team's defense. He missed the last game due to the beating he received at the hands of a hyper-aggressive Princeton team and is anxious to get on to the field.
Since Dartmouth is a physically bigger team than Princeton, Harvard expects a more outright physical game than the one against its last Ivy League opponent--minus the cheap shots the Tigers seemed to excel at.
Despite their own smaller size overall, the Crimson's athletes are confident in their own abilities.
"At our best, I don't think any team in the league can play with us," said junior fullback Ricky Le.