Forget about the critics who said they wouldn't be as competitive this year as in years past. Forget about the fairweather fans who said they had no offense with the loss of big name players. And forget about the fact that they struggled in mediocrity at the beginning of the season.
The women's soccer team is back to doing what it always does so well--scoring goals, winning games and tearing up the Ivy League.
The Crimson (9-3-2, 4-1 Ivy) literally bludgeoned the Princeton Tigers to death, 6-1, last Saturday. It was a weekend in which Harvard sports' teams virtually shut down the unwelcome visitors from New Jersey, and the women's soccer team made it clear it wanted its share of the spoils.
The win gave Harvard its fourth straight victory, and much like the football team, propelled it into a first-place tie with Dartmouth in the Ivy League.
"To beat [Princeton] so decisively was really important," said senior midfielder Keren Gudeman. "We had a bit of arrogance [before and during the game]...we needed that extra edge."
'Blood-lust' might be a little more appropriate than 'arrogance' as the Crimson opened the half with murder in its eyes.
Sophomore Ashley Berman and junior Naomi Miller provided some exciting tag team action to begin the offensive explosion. Miller fed an open Berman just three minutes into game time, and Berman answered with a booming cannon shot just over the desperate reach of Princeton's goaltender.
Moments later Berman returned the favor by targeting Miller, who was lurking dangerously near the net. Miller quickly gave the Crimson a 2-0 cushion.
"I felt like we were in control of the game after the second goal," Gudeman said.
But the scoring fury wasn't over with yet, nor was Miller who found net again halfway into the first half. From then on, it was nothing but open road and smooth driving for the Crimson.
Instead of putting on cruise control, however, the Crimson stomped down on the accelerator even harder and took off like an angry Ferrari. Still in the first half, freshman rising-star Erin Aeschliman gave up a seat on the bench to score Harvard's next two goals. Right on Aeschliman's heels, Gudeman tallied one for the veterans to end Harvard's first-half scoring tantrum at 6-0.
"I think [Aeschliman] is a great player with a lot of talent," said freshman Lauren Corkery. "When given the chance, she really stepped it up and played well." PRINCETON 1 HARVARD 6
Harvard Coach Tim Wheaton most likely didn't have much to say to his team at half-time with an almost insurmountable six goal lead under his belt.
"[Wheaton] talked to us about maintaining our level of intensity and taking care of both sides of the scoreboard [in the second half]," Gudeman said.
"We wanted to make the first half just as good, if not better, than the second half," Corkery added.
After the Crimson's nuclear explosion in the first, that task was asking just a little too much.
From an offensive standpoint, the second half was about as exciting as a rerun of MASH. Princeton senior Samantha Sacks added a meaningless goal in the middle of a cornerkick melee. But Harvard didn't pour any more salt on the Tiger's wounds and left the final insult at 6-1.
Harvard's trouncing of the Tigers and its four-game winning streak is the perfect segway into this Sunday's matchup against Dartmouth for Ivy supremacy.
After playing Dartmouth, the Crimson will have only one more game in its regular season against Brown before the NCAA first round teams are announced. The only way Harvard can make it into the NCAA's is if they win the Ivy League--thus assuring itself an automatic bid--so the significance of this weekend's matchup against the Big Green is obvious.
"I think that [beating Princeton] should definitely say something to the other teams like Dartmouth that we're ready to play...and we can win this thing," Corkery said.
There will certainly be some fireworks when Harvard teams clash with Dartmouth this weekend.
The women's soccer team can only hope that it emerges from its battle with the Ivy League back under its control and the NCAA's just over the horizon.
HARVARD, 6-1 at Ohiri FieldPrinceton 0 1 -- 1Harvard 6 0 --