The Harvard field hockey team knows a lot about its match today in Providence, RI.
Harvard knows that records, rankings and polls--all the favorite toys of sports writers everywhere--are in the Friars favor.
The Crimson knows that it enters the contest with an unimpressive record (2-4-2 overall, 1-1-2 Ivy). And it knows it must face a 12th-ranked Providence team that is 9-2-1 in 1992.
But Harvard also knows that it scored a major victory last weekend at Yale when it crushed the Elis 3-0 and leap-frogged from sixth place in the Ivies to third.
The Crimson hopes that the Yale win will ignite a fire which will clear a winning path for the team in the second half of the season.
A formidable Providence squad stands in Harvard's way. The Friars physical play has helped them muscle their way to an impressive record and a spot in the national ranking.
"Providence is big, physical and fast," Harvard Coach Sue Caples said. "They really hit the ball hard."
Caples said that the Crimson will have to be very aggressive itself in order to hold its ground.
"We need to be more physical, especially our side backs in the circle," Caples said.
The Crimson defense must keep up with the Friar attack led by top scorer Cathy Guden who has tallied six goals and dished out four assists.
And Harvard's offense must continue what it started in New Haven in order to get the ball past rock-solid Providence goalie Jeannie Martiniello who boasts a remarkable 115 saves and .927 save percentage.
Caples said that Crimson speedsters like forward Sarah Downing should be able to use their speed to create good opportunities on offense.
Downing was named to the Ivy Honor roll this week, scoring two goals and dishing out one assist in Harvard's last two games.
The Mather junior will need help from Co-Captain Rachel Burke who will attempt to dominate the midfield and control the Friar's big gun Guden.
"It will be a really physical game," Caples said. "Providence is a very good team."