Blame It on the Al-koe-hol
“This is Harvard Hockey, A Tradition of Excellence.” The tag-line on Harvard men’s hockey’s media guide doesn’t leave much room for error. 21 Ivy League titles, 12 Frozen Four Appearances, the 1989 NCAA Championship; the Crimson’s history dating back to 1897 backs up the guide’s bold claim. More than any other Harvard sport, save for crew, the men’s ice hockey program here in Cambridge boasts accolades not only impressive for a highly-academic school in the Ivy League, but also relevant on a national level.
With nine NHL Draft picks, a returning First-Team All-American in captain Danny Biega and a No. 17 preseason ranking, the Crimson appeared poised to reignite that tradition of excellence this season. Instead, with four regular season games left on the schedule, Harvard currently sits in last place in the ECAC at 4-12-2 (7-15-3 overall). For the seventh straight year, the Crimson entered February with a losing record. My question to Harvard coach Ted Donato ’91 and everyone associated with the program is: What gives?
It’s Nov. 13, 2010. The Harvard men’s soccer team has just upset No. 18 Penn on the road in the last game for a senior class that has gone 17-8-3 in the Ivy League, including a 2009 conference championship.
It is a cathartic end to a disappointing season which saw the Crimson finish in the middle of the pack in the Ivy League after being ranked as high as No. 6 in the country under first-year head coach and former assistant Carl Junot.
“We can’t hear you! WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
Jersey clad and scarf-wearing Bentley fans drowned out a small group of Crimson faithful as they attempted to put together a dismissive “Na na na na, na na na na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye” chant in the closing minutes of last Saturday’s dominant 5-0 Harvard men’s ice hockey victory at Bright Hockey Arena.
Call me crazy, but I think the Harvard men’s soccer team (1-5-3, 0-0-1 Ivy) is looking better than it has in a long time. Allow me to explain.
The last two seasons were plagued by high expectations and a lot of individual talent not realized as a team. The Crimson began both campaigns as a national contender and instead finished near the bottom of the Ivy League—including the program’s first winless conference season and a last-place finish in 2011.
In addition to late nights at the Kong and a couple of long-term projects with friends, this summer I had the pleasure of covering the Olympics for the Crimson. I use the word “pleasure” very deliberately. Rarely do you hear summer interns refer to their jobs so favorably, but despite time differences and forced acclimation to sports I was unfamiliar with (see: rowing), reporting on the stories of Harvard’s nine Olympians alongside Jacob D. H. Feldman ’15 was nothing short of a wonderful experience.
The Olympics are often criticized for excess media attention and particular focus on human-interest stories. Before this summer you could count me among the foremost of those critics. A general rule of thumb I’ve used is that—unless you’ve won a championship or are an MVP—if my grandmother has heard of you while watching Good Morning America, chances are you’re not worth the price of admission to a pure sports fan.