So what if they can't win in the semifinals of anything? After their performance in this past weekend's first ever national tournament in Colorado Springs, Harvard's women booters are the third, that's right, the third, best team in the nation.
The Crimson opened Friday by coasting past the University of Northern Colorado, 3-1. The booters then met old nemesis Cortland State in the semifinals of a tournament for the second week in a row, with the same result, falling 3-0 Saturday afternoon. In the consolation game for third place yesterday, the Crimson pulled off a come-from-behind win, 5-3, against the University of North Carolina.
Cortland's Red Dragons, who began the season with three straight losses but haven't been on the downside since, blew away UCLA, 5-1, in yesterday's finals, to add the national title to their Eastern Championship.
The biggest news to come out of Colorado for the Crimson was the selection of three players to the national tournament team.
Forward Cat Ferrante, who had an outstanding trip West, with four goals--including a hat trick against North Carolina--and an assist in the three games, midfielder Laurie Gregg, who's been a major force for the Crimson this year wherever she's played, and fullback Kelly Gately, who moved into the sweeper position for the first time this weekend and turned in a spectacular defensive performance, all garnered first-team honors.
For the third time in three weekends, the Crimson lost in the semifinals of a tournament to the eventual winner--2-1 to Brown in the Ivies, 2-1 to Cortland in last week's Easterns, and 3-0 Saturday to the Red Dragons once again.
The daytime temperatures on the weekend hung somewhere in the mid-20s, and it even snowed a little bit before and during the game with Cortland. Crimson keeper Ann Diamond was so cold after the game's 30th minute that she had to be replaced by Janet Judge, a converted midfielder.
Before she left, Diamond yielded two of the Dragon scores, at 6:15 and at 15:38.
Harvard's closest scoring opportunity came about 15 minutes into the second half, after a Cortland player was called for an infraction in the penalty area. Gregg too the penalty kick for Harvard, but her shot hit the left post and deflected all the way across the goal mouth before the Dragons cleared it to safety.
Cortland notched its third goal with only two minutes to go in the game, sending it into the finals against UCLA, which squeaked past North Carolina, 3-2.
Stickum and Tar
Against the Tar Heels, Judge started in goal and was tested almost right from the start, as North Carolina scored only four minutes into the game to grab a quick 1-0 lead.
Ferrante knocked in her first goal at 8:00, after taking a pass from Laura Mayer, who also had a goal and an assist in the game against Northern Colorado, to tie the game up, 1-1.
North Carolina picked up the pace and at the 30-minute mark, one of their forwards streaked through the Harvard defense, and beat Judge one-on-one on an excellent shot. But the Crimson bounced back again, as Ferrante slid a pass to freshman back striker Joan Elliott, who promptly put it in the net at 43:12 for a 2-all halftime tie.
At 11:33 of the second half, Elliott and Ferrante combined again, but this time in reverse, as Ferrante nailed her second goal of the day.
For the second time this season (the first being way back on September 28 against B.U.) hats were thrown for Ferrante, as she blasted in her third goal of the game, unassisted, at 27:23 of the half, giving Harvard an unreachable 4-2 advantage.
The Tar Heels narrowed the Crimson's lead to 4-3 only two minutes later, but Elliott came through with her second goal of the game at 82:57, to put the icing on third place.
THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson booters arrived back in Cambridge this morning at about 3 a.m. Because of some real scheduling stupidity, they will meet Yale here at 3 this afternoon for their final game of the season. Unbelievable.