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Two weeks ago, entering its game against Hartwick, the Harvard men's soccer team had visions of sugarplums dancing in its head.
Today, saddled with a four game winless streak, the Harvard men's soccer team (4-3-1 overall, 2-0-1 Ivy) is in danger of having its stocking filled with coal. The Crimson looks as if it might return to the consistent mediocrity of the Getman years.
The only rosy part of the picture is that Harvard has suffered little in the Ivy League race. After tying Cornell a week ago, the Crimson is in second place in the Ivies, behind undefeated, untied Dartmouth. The Big Green arrive in Cambridge for a Halloween faceoff in a fortnight.
But the Crimson's holiday chalice could be overflowing today at Ohiri Field. No, St. Nicholas isn't riding his sleigh in from the North Pole, but Hofstra from Garden City, N.Y. on its chartered bus.
The Flying Dutchmen (6-9-0) have never faced the Crimson, and most of their previous 15 opponents are to be sneezed at.
"We're the toughest team they have to face, so they will be psyched up," Harvard Captain Jason Luzak said.
After falling to Maine, one of the weaker squads on its schedule, Harvard has "returned to basics in the last two practices," said Luzak.
The Flying Dutchmen, however, are a physical team, with enough speed to shock the Crimson if its defense is not up to snuff. Hofstra's freshman forward Zak Wright, an English import, has already tallied eight goals, though none of his teammates match his prowess.
Wright and his fellow forwards could do to Harvard what Cornell did. Even though the Crimson fired enough shots on Big Red goalie Quinn O'Sullivan to make him Ivy Rookie of the Week, Cornell was able to tie the game through its numerous man-up surges downfield.
"Hofstra is supposed to be a strong, aggressive, athletic team, but not a very strong tactical team," Luzak said. "Still, we've been run by and run through in our last few games."
Harvard will make a few lineup changes for today's game. Bo Bernhard will make his first start at left half. The sophomore notched his first collegiate goal with a diving header to tie the Cornell game in overtime.
Also, with sophomore Tom Marcotullio sick during the past few days, freshman Tanner Sly will probably take over Marcotullio's backfield position. With its next game against ferocious Ivy rival Princeton, the Crimson cannot slip and slide any longer.
"We're basically looking at this as a warmup for another Ivy league game," Luzak said.
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