If Plato had known sophomore Cat Ferrante before he wrote "The Dialogues," he would have changed the resolution of his chapter on the significance of names.
Socrates: So you see Cratylus, names do not create an image of that which they represent.
Cratylus: But consider the fastest member of the Harvard women's soccer team, whose first name is that of an agile animal and whose last name sounds like a fancy Italian sports car.
Socrates: Hey, I guess I was wrong. Let's go get something to drink.
You don't have to be a philosopher to figure out that the essence of Ferrante's game is her speed. Watching her dart past defenders, streak down the field after a loose ball, or break away from midfield to score all justify her reputation as one of the most effective soccer players in the Ivy League.
Already this season, Ferrante has notched seven goals and three assists--including a hat trick against Smith, and the mark that pushed Harvard past Brown, 1-0, in the booters' toughest match so far this year.
At the wing position Ferrante can best use her speed and ambidextrous kicking strength. However, Harvard coach Bob Scalise occasionally moves her into a forward striker position alongside junior Sue St. Louis.
Though Ferrante relies mainly on her speed to frustrate the opposition, by improving her ball control and developing a more powerful shot, she has scored more frequently this year than last, when she still ranked as the team's third-highest scorer. In addition, her better ball-handling skills have made her a defensive, as well as offensive, threat.
"In my freshman year my speed helped me a lot to make the team, out my skills were nowhere near other people's," Ferrante said recently in her Kirkland House suite.
"Before I got to Harvard I was just hacking around: I would just kick the ball and chase it. Here I've gotten a lot better, although I still do a lot of kicking and chasing anyway," she added.
Ferrante's improvement over the past two seasons has involved both learning and practice, since she only started playing competitive soccer in her junior year at the Princeton Day School and had not mastered some of the most elementary soccer skills.
"I didn't do heads until I got here," Ferrante said, hinting at the game against Smith when she notched her first of three goals by heading a floating pass into the net.
Although it seems ridiculous now--given her success and the team's undefeated season--Ferrante said, "At the beginning of the year, my expectations were so high that I was scared this year would be a let-down. I thought 'no way is it going to be as good as last year.' But it is."
Ferrante said she enjoys soccer more than lacrosse--the sport that brought the college talent scouts flocking to the Ferrante residence in Princeton, N.J.--because she feels she can go farther using solely her feet.