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Death Valley was the name of the field, but the pelting rain made the valley a marshland.
And yesterday afternoon in rainy Durham, N.H., the Harvard women's soccer team dropped in two pellets of its own to swamp the University of New Hampshire, 2-0.
Coincidentally, the victory marked the third consecutive 2-0 triumph for the undefeated Crimson squad, now 3-0 on the season.
The booters were ranked 12th in the nation in a pre-season poll; after blanking Springfield College, the University of Vermont and now UNH, the squad's standing in the next poll (to be released tomorrow) ought to have improved.
Not bad for a team that ended the 1984 campaign ranked fifth nationally--and then lost five valued players to graduation.
Wandering Through the Bog
And though the Crimson's play threatened to bog down in the mire for much of the first half, the team finally managed to break through at the 38-minute mark.
Considering that Harvard has not yet squandered a lead this season, and that the Wildcats don't have a come-from-behind victory to their credit, freshman Cathy Dawson's header pretty much sealed it.
"The weather was just miserable, so it's good to come out with a win on a day like this," Harvard Coach Bob Scalise said. "This is what it's like in England."
The game-winner, Dawson's first-ever collegiate tally, highlighted a few of Harvard's strengths--as well as one of its major weaknesses.
Dawson is just one of several talented players providing the booters with offensive depth. After the first string had slipped around for about 20 minutes at the start of the contest, Scalise replaced his tired starters with fresh attackers Amy Winston and Deborah Lawrence.
Scalise platooned his troops throughout the contest in order to maintain a high energy level.
"We're a small team, and the advantage is with a bigger team on a day like this," the Crimson mentor noted. "It's a more physical game in the rain--it's difficult just to be able to lift your feet up and down."
Both Dawson's goal and Co-Captain Ann Baker's tally in the second half followed corner kicks--the third and fourth Crimson tallies this year to have come on corners.
But despite its apparent versatility and its effectiveness at converting corner kicks, the offense is not yet playing up to par.
"We need to get more offense from our strikers," Scalise said.
All of Harvard's goals thus far have been notched by midfielders--while the forwards have shown flashes of brilliance, they have not quite gelled as a line.
Brilliant, however, is an appropriate term for both Crimson goals yesterday afternoon, inasmuch as anything can be brilliant in such miserable weather.
At the 38-minute mark, midfielder Karen Garibaldi cleared a high corner kick across the front of the net. Dawson, stationed at the far post, leaped up and tipped the ball past Wildcat netminder Janene Tilden.
Later, 15 minutes into the second stanza, Harvard worked a little more of its corner-kick magic.
With Garibaldi once again taking the kick, two Cantabs swept across the goal area from left to right, decoying the UNH defenders.
Meanwhile, Baker stationed herself smack in the middle of the box, and grounded Garibaldi's ball in from about 15 yards out.
And with the Crimson defense providing its usual flawless protection, and sophomore goalie Tracee Whitlee registering her 13th career shutout--and third this year--the booters could head home with yet another 2-0 triumph.
THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson's home opener is Saturday at 11:00 a.m. against Adelphi.
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