Thanks to inertia, things in motion tend to stay in motion. Take a soccer ball--once it's kicked along an obstacle-free trajectory toward an open net, not even Isaac Newton should be able to stop it.
But referees have a way of transcending the laws of nature, as the Harvard women's soccer team found out Saturday at Soldiers Field.
Early in the game, Crimson Co-Captain Ann Baker lined the ball into the net for what seemed to be a sure goal--only to have the ref call the booters offsides, rescind the tally, and set the stage for an eventual 3-0 Princeton victory.
The loss, while it did not knock Harvard completely out of the Ivy League race, nonetheless dealt a serious blow to the squad's Ancient Eight (or in this case, Ancient Six) aspirations.
With three-time defending champ Brown holding onto first place with a 2-0-1 league mark, the Crimson (1-1-1) now trails both the Bruins and the Tigers (2-0-2).
However, Harvard has a chance to take matters into its own hands (and feet) when it travels to Yale and Brown this week for the final two regular-season games.
If the booters triumph in both these contests, and if Princeton loses one league game, the Crimson is guaranteed at least a tie for first in the Ivies.
But early in Saturday's game, Harvard was ready to forget about the "ifs" and go straight for some instant gratification.
The Crimson won the pre-game toss and elected to open the contest with the blustery wind at its back.
"The wind was a big advantage," Tiger Coach Tom Griffith said.
"They took the wind first--which is what we would have done, too."
And while Princeton's long services were being buffeted down in mid-flight, Harvard was using the steady gale to support its down-field passing--and to put constant pressure on Tiger netminder Dodie Colavecchio.
Just 13 minutes into the contest, Baker wound around several defenders, worked her way across the width of the field and drove a shot past Colavecchio from 25 yards out.
But before the booters could celebrate their first first-half goal since October 8, the referee stepped in with the offsides call on Karin Pinezich.
So much for an early lead.