In the wild, wacky world of Ivy field hockey, anything can happen. Upsets, ties and multiple champions are as common as losing seasons are for the New England Patriots.
And winning or losing often seems more a matter of appeasing the gods than playing well.
When the Harvard field hockey team faces 15th-ranked Princeton today in New Jersey, the Crimson will need all the supernatural forces it can get on its side.
Harvard (3-6-2 overall, 1-1-2 Ivy) is coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss to Boston College and will have to play much better than it did against the Eagles to keep up with Princeton.
But the heavily favored Tigers (7-4-1 overall, 3-1-1 Ivy) have also had some troubles of their own recently.
Although Princeton has given opposing teams fits all season with its powerful defense, it has lost its last two games in frustrating fashion.
Princeton lost a 2-1 overtime battle to West Chester and suffered its first Ivy loss Tuesday at Pennsylvania. The Quakers edged out the Tigers 3-2 in overtime.
Both Harvard and Princeton need a win today to stay in the race for the Ivy championship.
Despite its lackluster record overall, the Crimson has done relatively well in the Ancient Eight this season and a win over the Tigers would leave Harvard in decent position to challenge for the crown.
Although Princeton has led in the Ivy standings for most of the season, the Tigers cannot afford another Ivy loss.
"We have to win this game," Princeton Coach Beth Bozman said. "There is no doubt about it."
Desperation is not the only factor that should make the match more of a battle than a game. There is also the "friendly" Harvard-Princeton rivalry to consider.
"Princeton has lost two in a row, and there's no love lost between the two teams," Harvard Coach Sue Caples said. "It's an intense rivalry."
Caples said that although the Tigers are a strong team, the Crimson will be ready for anything Princeton does.
In Harvard's favor, junior sweeper Amy Belisle--who sat out of the Boston College game with a stress fracture in her leg--will return to the starting lineup.