Being passed over is never easy to swallow.
The Harvard women's soccer team unfortunately had to encounter that feeling yesterday; the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee went with three teams from the Midwest instead of the Crimson.
It's the same slap in the face that the Harvard men's hockey team endured four seasons ago. The Crimson won the ECAC regular-season championship, but the NCAA hockey committee left it out of The Dance. And you know what, the icemen went on to win the ECAC the next two years and make those two national tournaments.
So rather than accentuating the negative, the Crimson women should focus on the positive in what was a tremendous season. Heck, Harvard only happened to go 14-2-1 and win their first Ivy League title since 1981.
So let's take a stroll back to Stevenson Field in Providence, R.I. on Saturday night. It was about 8:50 p.m., and Harvard was ahead of the Brown Bears by a score of 1-0 with scant minutes remaining.
The tension and the excitement grew every time a Bear touched the ball. But each time Brown had possession, Harvard got in the way and reclaimed the ball.
The seconds ticked down ever so slowly, but when the clock struck 0:00 and the scoreboard read "Visitor 1, Brown 0", everyone knew how far Harvard women's soccer had come. Well, let me amend that--Philip A. Buttafuoco and the rest of the NCAA Tournament committee apparently didn't.
The Crimson players raced onto the tundra in delirious joy. One could see several packs of players hugging each other because they had accomplished what they set out to do from day one--to win the Ivy League title, which they had come so close to doing the year before.
Such a scene seemed a distant dream only two years ago. The Crimson was coming off 5-8-2 (2-4-1 Ivy) and 6-7-2 (3-4-0) seasons in 1992 and 1993, respectively. Who'd have thunk that in two years, Harvard would be wearing the crown?
Coach Tim Wheaton deserves a ton of credit for finding so many star players in the last few years. He has built a solid foundation for the team, which this year consisted of only three seniors and three juniors in addition to a multitude of talented sophomores and freshmen.
The team played together as a team and supported each other on the field and off the field. When certain players went down to injuries on Saturday night, others did a splendid job.
While sophomore Emily Stauffer is in a class of her own, it took 10 other players on the field to accomplish what the team did last year and especially this year.
Harvard won as a team, and though its schedule was viewed as being on soft side by NCAA members, the Crimson still won 14 games--the third highest in school history.
And it won that elusive Ivy title.
So while the players' heads might be down a little from the NCAA slight, they shouldn't be upset. They will always be the 1995 Ivy League champions, and that's a pretty nifty way to end the season.
The Crimson women should focus on the positive in what was a tremendous season.