The Year of Contenders, Not Titles

Twelve Defining Moments in Sports

To paraphrase the immortal words of boxer Jake LaMotta, Harvard athletics in 1991-2 couldah been contendah.

In fact, it was. But unfortunately, that's all it was.

Some Harvard squads came close to championships, only to fall short in the end.

The women's lacrosse team, ranked number one in the nation, lost to Maryland in the NCAA finals and Rensselaer upset the top-seeded men's hockey team in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament quarterfinals.

There were also times when Harvard was far from being a contender.


The men's basketball team endured its worst start in school history (0-11) before stumbling to a 6-20 finish, while the youthful men's lacrosse team managed to win just one Ivy League game.

But other Harvard programs delivered success. The field hockey team garnered its first-ever bid to the NCAA tournament, and the women's soccer team returned to the ECAC tournament for the first time in five years.

The men's and women's squash teams--arguably the best collegiate squash squads ever--won a double national championship this year.

The women's swimming team won its fourth Eastern title in five years, while the men won Easterns on the very last race of the meet.

The men's tennis team advanced to the second round of its NCAA tournament, while the women won the Ivy League for the ninth time in 10 years.

So don't be misled by the high-profile setbacks: As with any year in sports, there were moments of both anguish and glory. Twelve events, more than any others, defined the year in Harvard athletics.

NOVEMBER 9, 1991

30 carries. 323 yards.

Harvard football's Matt Johnson rumbled overBrown breaking the Ivy League rushing record bynearly 50 yards.

The bruising senior fullback also threw for 28yards that day, over half of quarterback MikeGiardi's total. Johnson's effort enabled theCrimson to squeak past the Bears, 35-29.

The previous Ivy League rushing record was 288yards, set last year by Cornell's Scott Oliaroagainst Yale. The characteristically modestJohnson downplayed his achievement.