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Is there anything that can stop the Harvard men's soccer team?
(Or for that matter, is there anyone eho can score more than once against them?)
Not in the Ivy League, apparently.
Saturday's 2-1 win over Brown, the 14th straight for the booters, clinched the Ivy championship for the men.
For those of you scoring at home, that's two in the last four years. Not bad for a team that didn't even have a winning record last season.
Despite the weather, the team and its fans were not deterred--practically every starter's parent was out in the driving rainstorm cheering the team on.
Soccer moms and dads everywhere. (Quick, someone take a Gallup Poll!)
But the real action was on the rain-soaked carpet, where the Crimson, in spite of the elements, managed to play a stylish game of soccer that really made the opponents look like the Bad News Bears.
Take the second goal, a beauty off the left foot of captain Will Kohler. Kohler's shot came at a sharp angle to the goal, having been forced to the side by two separate defenders. The shot itself was unbelievable.
But it was set up by great vision and passing by the midfield up the side-lines.
Harvard would take the ball up the field and get swarmed by Brown defenders.
What, Harvard worry?
In attacking the Harvard midfield, Brown left swatches of the field wide open enough to accommodate overflow parking from the football game next door.
Harvard did a good job of finding the open men in the corners or the sidelines--Kevin Silva, T.J. Carella, even Tom McLaughlin.
And then there was the passing.
McLaughlin started at least two fast breaks with a mere flick of the ankle.
He'd get the pass on the sideline at midfield, and with his back turned to the field, would quickly flip the ball just behind him.
And there was always someone there to get the pass.
Off that player--Silva, Kohler, or someone--would go, leaving the Brown defender as perplexed as if he just came from a Physics 15b lecture.
In fact, without the stellar goalkeeping of Brown junior Patrick Rea, Harvard would be scoring goals whenever they felt like it.
So to counter Harvard's superior skills, Brown rolled out its version of the Hanson Brothers from "Slap Shot". For the uninitiated, they were the goon squad of the Charlestown Chiefs hockey club, the movie's subject.
For Brown, the thug was senior Aaron Fernandes, who ran around the field, mauling whoever was handling the ball.
Real nice of Brown to try and injure some players before Harvard goes to the NCAA tournament.
But Harvard, clearly the superior team talent-wise, also proved itself to be the tougher squad.
Senior back Jon Vrionis personally saw to Fernandes' demise.
If Fernandes got the ball, his next stop was the turf.
No passing Go.
Down he went.
It was like watching a bully fighter getting his come-uppance from a superior boxer. (Funny how these things happen in pairs.)
After five minutes Fernandes was cooling his heels (and the welts on his shins) on the bench as Harvard cruised to a safe (literally) victory.
So through a combination of skill, smarts and toughness, Harvard has earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
And Harvard, seventh-ranked in the nation, is in prime position to make a run deep into the tournament.
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