Maybe they've been saving the best for last.
The Harvard women's soccer team braved temperatures in the mid 20s and a rock-hard field to scoot past the University of Northern Colorado, 3-1, yesterday afternoon in the opening round of the National Intercollegiate women's soccer championships in Colorado Springs.
Laura Meyer and Laurie Gregg tallied first-half goals, and Cat Ferrante added an insurance score in the second half to boost the Crimson booters' record to 12-6 and send them into this afternoon's semifinal with old nemesis and fellow Eastern representative Cortland State.
The Red Dragons of Cortland, who certainly must be draggin' after driving all the way to Colorado in vans, won the battle of the CSU's yesterday, stooping Colorado State University, 3-0, in their opening-round contest.
And so for the second consecutive week, Harvard and Cortland will square off in the semi-finals of a tournament. In last week's Easterns, the Red Dragons eliminated the Crimson, 2-1, and then defeated the University of Connecticut in the finals. Harvard and Cortland tied, 1-1, in the finals of the 1979 Easterns, sharing the title.
In today's other semifinal, top-ranked UCLA, which had a bye in the first round, meets the University of North Carolina, which defeated Texas A&M, 1-0, yesterday. The winners of the semifinal matches go into tomorrow afternoon's 2:30 (Colorado time) finals, while the losers meet at 12:30 for third place.
Against North Colorado, the Crimson was pretty much in control from the start, relying mainly on team speed to outduel the Colorado-ites.
Mayer picked up the first Crimson goal at 21:23, after a big scramble in front of the net. She came out of it with the ball and put it past the Colorado keeper for a 1-0 Harvard lead.
Northern Colorado tied the game on a corner kick and another scramble, this time in front of Crimson keeper Ann Diamond, before the ball found the back of the net at 31:23.
But Harvard's Gregg came back to put the Crimson in the lead for good at 42:42, taking a pass from Mayer, and letting loose a beautiful, hard shot that the Colorado goalie had no chance on. It was Gregg's tenth goal on the season, the second-highest output on the team.
Not content to rest on a 2-1 halftime lead, the Crimson came out flying to start the second half, as Sue St. Louis pushed a ball through the fullback line for Ferrante, who took the goalie on one-on-one and put the ball into the right side of the net for a 3-1 Harvard lead, just 48 seconds into stanza number two.
The Crimson defense, especially Kelly Gately, starting at the sweeper position for the first time this season, made the big difference, keeping the Northern Colorado forwards from penetrating into the Crimson's zone. Most of the game's play took place at the midfield.
THE NOTEBOOK: Freshman Janet Judge saw her first action in goal for the Crimson, protecting the net for the entire second half. The converted midfielder made two saves...Diamond came up with eight saves in the first half.
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