According to the story, a big-snot lawyer who had just wrested a favorable decision from the judge was once asked why his case had been a success. Tired from a long day in court, he curtly replied, "One doesn't have to explain why one wins."
The Harvard women booters could sympathize with this sentiment. Their 10-0 season record is explanation enough that whatever they're doing, they're doing it right.
However, anyone who has watched the women play will tell you that they don't simply outclass their opposition--they outrun, outskill, outshout, outshoot, and outscore them.
So far this season Harvard has recorded exactly 400 shots on net while the total of all their opponents' attempts has yet to reach triple digits. Moreover, only five enemy shots have hit the target whereas 33 Crimson balls have bisected foreign goalposts. The combination of a strong offense backed up by an equally solid defense allows each team member to concentrate solely on her position since she trusts other players to do their jobs.
Lately, because players are working so well together, the team has been able to execute tactically sophisticated plays which involve split-second timing under intense game pressure.
One reason why the Crimson's skill level on the field exceeds that of other teams is that "we put more pressure on people during practice than they encounter in a game," coach Bob Scalise said.
Yet while many teams, such as Princeton, emphasize skills because they lack speed, you probably could not find a faster team than Harvard.
"Our halfbacks would be forwards on almost any other team," Scalise said. "Also while other teams tend to put klunkers in the back, our fullbacks are really agile and fast," he added.
And the forwards. Currently the team's leading scorer with 12 goals and three assists, Sue St. Louis does things that you don't see many women doing on a soccer field. Flanked by the exceptionally quick Cat Ferrante and Julie Brynteson, who sports the hardest shot on the team, the forwards alone justify the team's number one seed in the Ivy League tournament and number four seed in the Eastern tournament.
Although first starting Havard goalie Wendy Carle and second starting goalie Barb Mahon find practice more demanding than games, Scalise says, "They are trained to make the two or three saves that make a difference in the game."
The two starting goalies point out another factor adding to the team's success--depth. In fact, an outsider watching a game would have a hard time distinguishing between the first and second team since the abilities of the reserves practically match those of the starters.
Today the Crimson travels to Amherst to take on UMass, whose sizzling 10-1 record also propelled them to a berth in the Eastern tourney. Although the Minutemen handed the Harvard booters the only loss of their 1978 season, this year's Crimson squad has improved on last year's performance. And regardless of the outcome of today's match, the Crimson will continue to play some of the--if not the--best soccer in the East.