Today is the day the women's soccer team finds out whether it goes to Disney world. It the team wins this afternoon's NCAA quarterfinal match against the University of Missouri-St. Louis at St. Louis they will head to Orlando, Fla., for the semifinals and finals
The battle for this Florida ticket represents a confrontation between the old women's soccer aristocracy and the upstart younger programs. Harvard has been at the forefront of women's soccer ever since intercollegiate women's soccer began to get serious.
But they dominated what was then only a regional game; until 1980, there was not even a National championship since most of the soccer was being played in the East UMSL is typical of the new powerful Western and Southern teams that have since then appeared on the scene.
While perennial Eastern power such as UConn, UMass, and Harvard are still very much factors in this year's NCAA tournament, only UConn is among the top four seeds (L UConn, 2: UMSL. 3. N. Carolina, 4. Cent. Florida).
Mo-St. Louis has only had a varsity program for two years and the team is made up almost exclusively of freshmen and sophomores. Despite the relative youth of the St. Louis players, the squad is one of the most feared in the Central Women's Soccer ranks The smothering UMSI defense led by freshman goalie Roth Harker and her classmate fullback Leslie Mirth has recorded 12 shutouts and allowed only four goals all season. With such impressive defensive statistics, it is not surprising that the team is still unbeaten sporting a 130-3 records that includes a win over UNC and a 0-0 be with Central Florida
Last year in the AIAW National Championship St. Louis finished fourth after losing to Florida in the semifinals. And right behind them finished Harvard, which lost to Florida in the quarterfinals (The Crimson then went on to beat the University of Texas to finish fifth.)
"We haven't faced St. Louis yet this year." Harvard Coach Bob Scalise said "But, we plan on playing them the way we played Brown on Friday. We'll play a faster game and a defensive game."
It Harvard is to have any success against this St. Louis team, it will need the kind of the defensive effort that back Jeanne Piersiak Kelly Gately and sweeper Debbie Field in last Friday night's upset of Brown That effort sent the Crimson to the Gateway city today. In particular Harvard will have to contain St. Louis strikers Karen Lombard and Jean Gettemeyer, who combined account for 23 of the squad's tallies.
The booters also need great play from midfielders Jenny Greeley and Inga Larson, as well as strikers Alicia Carillo and Kelly Landry.
"We've played well all season long but it's a matter of maintaining emotional intensity for an entire game "Scalise said.
St. Louis looks pretty unbeatable, but then Harvard has a history of upsets in playoff action--from last year's win over UConn in the Easterns to last week's in over Ivy Champ Brown. All season long the Crimson has shown sparks of brilliance. Now it's a matter of generating those sparks into a full-fledged hour-and-a-half-long fire.