Ah, opening day for the women's soccer team...
Well, the sun didn't shine. A crisp autumn breeze didn't rustle the turning leaves. And ten thousand men of Harvard, clad in chinos and pullover sweaters, didn't cheer the Crimson on to victory. So much for atmosphere.
However, the lissome Crimson booters did, despite the sleek field conditions and the on-again, off-again rain, parlay deft ball control and the soccer talents of five exceptional freshmen into a convincing victory over Bowdoin, 2-1. Saturday afternoon at the Business School field.
Before the game, coach Bob Scalise faced the annual pre-season quandry: whether this year's recruits could fill a line-up depleted by graduation and leave-takers. The squad's performance yesterday after only one practice answered unequivocally in the affirmative.
Indeed, some old friends of Harvard women's soccer murmured on the sidelines that this year's team is more skilled than any before. Quite a compliment since past Crimson contingents have shared the Eastern Championship crown, twice won the Ivy Championship, and placed as high as third in the nationals.
"It was the nicest soccer I've seen here," a pleased Scalise said after the game, adding. "The freshmen look very good, but we still have a long way to go to polish our game."
Scalise can rest assured that he has the raw material to work with.
Harvard dominated most of the match, especially the second half when the rain let up, utilizing its superior ball control and aggressive loose ball play. The Polar Bears relied on aimless upfield boots, while the Crimson, despite the slippery ball which often skidded unexpectedly on the wet field, worked the ball on the ground with sure-footed dribbling and pretty give-and-gos.
With 27 minutes left in the game and the score knotted at one, Yardling Alicia Carrillo quickly played the ball after a dangerous-play violation and fed classmate and fellow striker Kelly Landry. Landry knocked in her second goal of the day, the game-winner, with a 15-yd. drive into the lower righthand corner of the goal.
Although Scalise has not made any final decisions on positions, the tandem of Carrillo, the 1980 Boston Globe Scholastic Player of the Year, and Landry, a second-team Massachusetts All-Scholastic selection, worked very well together as strikers.
The potent duo wasted no time dominating Bowdoin, which lost only to Harvard. Brown and Springfield last year. Just 1:44 into the game, Carrillo chipped a pass through the defense to the streaking Landry, who blasted the ball into the nets for her first Harvard goal.
Because of the improved ball handling, the offense no longer relies on "sending" a forward toward the goal with a lob pass, but rather uses more controlled, short, crisp passes, which accounted for 24 shots on goal.
The new style tested the conditioning of the halfbacks, particularly the wing halfs, junior Laura Mayer and co-captain Cat Ferrante, who have the double duty of helping defensively and receiving feeds to the outside from the strikers on the attack.
Moments before Landry tallied the game winner, Ferrante showed how a wing half can effectively lead the offensive siege. Taking a pass from inside half Jen Greeley, Ferrante broke down the left side and drew two defenders toward her before centering to the cutting Carrillo. The talented freshman unleashed a drive off the outstretched hand of Bowdoin goalie Cathy Leitch, which would have rolled into the twines if it handed landed in a puddle in the crease. The inside halfs, freshmen Greeley and Ingra Larsen, used their superior trapping ability and their strong all-around play to turn sloppy loose-ball action into a concerted counterattack.
The last of the starting Yardlings, Debbie Field, fortified a defensive alignment which would make Caspar W. Weinberger '38 proud. After a Polar Bear direct kick with four minutes remaining, Field slid into the crease and cleared a loose ball from the rebound-minded Bowdoin forwards.
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