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The Tufts women's soccer tournament began on a sour note Saturday as the Tufts men's varsity coach, in an unquestionable violation of Title 9, ordered the nets to be taken from one of the two fields to be used that day. The day ended, however, on a higher pitch as Tufts and Harvard--two teams which had tied one another, 1-1, in a 50-minute contest earlier in the afternoon--played an enthralling scoreless 30 minute playoff, emerging at the end as co-champions of the four-team round robin event.
Had it been watched by 50,000 fans, the playoff would have produced at least a dozen announcements from the public address announcer asking "Is there a doctor in the crowd?", for there would have been at least that many heart attacks.
However, since only about twenty hardy souls watched the playoff as the evening drew to a cold, dark close, several cases of over-bitten nails emerged as the most serious medical emergencies.
Despite being handicapped by injuries incurred earlier in the day, which sidelined center fullback Sarah Fischer and right wing Julie Brynteson, the Crimson managed to dominate most of the first half of the crucial playoff as seemingly tireless striker Ellen Hart and Brynteson's replacement, Marsha Hamelin, spearheaded repeated thrusts into the Tufts penalty area.
Hamelin almost tallied six minutes into the game. A scramble in front of the net left her with the ball two yards from the goalline. Unfortunately for the Crimson, Tufts 5'11" goalie Ann Forbes foiled Hamelin, showing superb reflexes as she flicked the right wing's shot wide.
In the opening minutes of the final, suspenseful, quarter-hour period Tufts took control, sending a cross rolling tantalizingly across the front of the Crimson goalmouth and then booming a shot that deflected into the right upright.
As this pressure continued disaster almost struck Harvard. A handball gave Tufts a free kick outside the penalty area with only six minutes left. Seconds after the kick, a Tufts shot deflected past Radcliffe goalie Irene Kacandes and headed for the back of the net. It did not reach the nylon, however, as Crimson fullback Paula Levihn stepped in out of nowhere to stop the ball on the goalline and to restart Harvard hearts by clearing the ball to the side of the field.
The narrow escape revitalized Harvard and sent them scurrying to the opposite end of the field for a couple of last gasp attempts to score. Ann Forbes halted them again, however, gathering two ground shots into her capable hands.
Forbes can be given much of the credit for gaining Tufts a share of the championship. In both matches against the Crimson she prevented her opposition from dominating for more than a few minutes at a time by consistently punting the ball past midfield after she gathered it into her hands. She also made a memorable diving save of a hard shot from Sue St. Louis with only three minutes left in the first Harvard-Tufts game.
Besides tying Tufts 1-1 the women's soccer team also ruined U-Mass's 6-0 unbeaten slate, beating them 2-1, and thrashed Mt. Holyoke 3-0 in the preliminary games. Right fullback Natalie Roe played exceptionally well in all 150 minutes of those three games, mixing an excellent sense of when to get rid of the ball quickly with the poise to start constructive offensive movements when she had the time.
Coach Bob Scalise seemed pleased with his team's efforts, magnanimously offering them free dinner at McDonald's after the game. To leave the reader with a more balanced impression of the man's generosity it must also be reported that Scalise couched his offer with reminders that his players might benefit from getting back to Dillon quickly and taking a hot shower to relieve their cold, tired bodies.
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