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Harvard versus Yale... That says it all.
The classic rivalry will be resumed this morning at 11 a.m. at Ohiri Field when the Harvard men's soccer team clashes with the Elis in what promises to be the most emotional game of the young season.
"It's always the biggest game of the year simply because it's Yale," Harvard coach Mike Getman said. "Even if we win the national championship, people will always ask how we did against Yale."
Put aside all the emotion, however, and you're left with a critical game for the Crimson (1-1 overall, 0-1 Ivy). Having notched one loss in the Ivy League already, the Crimson cannot afford to drop today's match against the defending champion Elis (2-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy), currently ranked number nine in the nation.
"By far, this is the most important game of the year both for the Ivy League and the region," junior full-back Josh Morris said. "If we beat Yale, a top-ten ranked team, we're in the driver's seat in the region."
The top two teams in the region qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
This year's Yale squad is faced with the challenge of replacing full-back Peter Zenobi and goalie Bryan Martin, both of whom have graduated. Zenobi was named Ivy Player of the Year and Third Team All-America. But right now, the Elis' main concern is resurrecting its offense. In its two games this season, Yale has tallied only three times, shutting out Fordham 1-0 and edging Brown 2-1.
"So far, our goal is figuring out how to get some scoring," Yale Coach Steve Griggs said. "Harvard will probably be the toughest team we've played so far."
But if the Elis are hoping for a scoring revival, they are going to have to do it without senior forward Von Hughes. Hughes was red-carded late in the Brown game after scoring earlier in the contest, and he will be unavailable for play against Harvard.
However, despite Yale's recent offensive drought, Getman anticipates a potent Yale front line.
Harvard's efforts to contain the Yale scorers will be bolstered by the return of junior fullback Josh Morris, who was red-carded in the season-opener against Columbia. Midfielders Juan Betancourt, Jeremy Amen and Joe Bradley also are expected to play today. However, junior goalie Scott Salisbury is sidelined with an ankle injury which he sustained against UConn, and Harvard will be forced to rely soley on junior netminder Jamie Reilly.
All the games that Yale and Harvard have played this season have been decided by one goal, and one goal may very well be the difference today, as it was in the Elis' 1-0 victory over Harvard last year. The Crimson is going to rely on its endurance more than anything else.
"They are probably more skilled than we are," Morris said. "It's going to take another game like UConn. It may not be the prettiest game of soccer."
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