The Joys of Home Openers

On The John

This Sunday the Harvard men's soccer team opens its home schedule with an Ivy League game against Columbia; what a good time to reflect on the joys of beginning one's league season at home.

There is always something special about home openers. Often the best day of the sports year, fans are given a new chance to dream the impossible and the improbable.

Every April fanatics flock to old Fenway to celebrate the beginning. They bask in the eternal hopefulness that only a beautiful spring day can bring. The Red Sox are in first place and everything points to it being "The Year," the year that erases the painful and embarrassing memories of the previous 85 campaigns.

Sometime around Halloween the scene shifts to the hallowed halls of the Boston Garden. The location and atmosphere are different. The Celtics are used to winning it all; the Bruins bring with them banner after banner of tradition.

But the sentiments are still the same. Anticipation. Relief. Nervousness. And most of all excitement.

It is the excitement that comes with something new and refreshing. It is an excitement that allows a sports fan to dream the impossible dream. For one day, or perhaps just an hour, his team is the best, the most promising, the most exciting.

After all, there is no record to refute the dreams. There is no consecutive loss streak, no tired and uninspired play that frustrates even the most devout. There is only the chance that this may be the year.

And at this very moment Harvard sports fans have the chance to join in on the fun. They have the chance to enjoy and experience the relatively new phenomenon of Locker soccer.

Locker and his gang have not had the same kind of start as last year. They haven't turned any heads around the league with spectacular play and last-second heroics.

Beginning the season with a win over Hartford on the road, Harvard has since dropped its last two against Vermont and Connecticut. That, however is all in the past. None were Ivy League games, and only one was at home.

The team is back in Cambridge and ready for the real season to begin, ready to take on the Ancient Eight.

This year the league is strong from the top to bottom. But with its four Fab Frosh and a talented blend of returners, the Crimson is primed to make a run at the league title.

But before it thinks about the title it must deal with a tough Columbia (2-2, 0-1 Ivies) team, a squad that Coach Locker thinks highly enough of to list as a potential champion.

Harvard can't be worried about a possible showdown with preseasonpick Dartmouth on October 30. It can't yet be bothered about its trip to New Haven on October 15.

The Crimson can only worry about Columbia. And revel in the excitement of the home opener. The bitter taste of two straight losses is wiped clean. All that remains is the hope that this will be Harvard's year.

Everyone knows the odds are that in a division full of parity there probably will not be a league championship brought back to the shores of the Charles. But for now everything is good. The team is home, undefeated in league play, and in first place.

Its a fun time to be a fan. Its a fun time to watch and dream of good things to come.