Dreams of an NCAA championship float through the air these days at women's lacrosse practices.
Stung by an overtime defeat in the NCAA finals last season, coaches and players are eager for redemption.
To regain the national title it won in 1990, however, Harvard will have to overcome stiff competition--much of it from within the Ivy League.
The national preseason women's lacrosse poll puts Harvard in second place behind Maryland. Last year's champion.
The Terrapins (who will face the Crimson in early April and then probably again in the NCAA tournament in May) return three All-Tournament players from last season's playoffs.
"They're definitely very strong again this year," senior Co-Captain Rachel Burke said.
Ivy League Tough
The competition doesn't get any easier closer to home. Besides Harvard, five other Ivy League teams rank in the national top 15: Princeton at fourth, Dartmouth at eighth, Yale at thirteenth. Brown at fourteenth, and Cornell at fifteenth.
Princeton lost to the Crimson last season in the NCAA semifinals, but this year they are only one team in a very large pack.
"The league is really strong this season," Co-Captain Liz Berkery said. "It'll be very tough [to win the Ivy title], but that's certainly our goal."
There will be few easy wins on Harvard's schedule. After a preseason matchup with the formidable national team of Scotland, the Crimson will dive into play against a number of highly ranked non-conference opponents, and then move on immediately to Ancient Eight play.
The road to Berkery's second national championship will be long and arduous--but is it ever anything else?