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W. Soccer Prepares For NCAA Tourney

By Yair J. Listokin

The year-long motto of this year's Harvard women's soccer team has been "pride in the process." The Crimson has not just won--it has enjoyed playing. This attitued has taken the Crimson (15-1 overall, 7-0 Ivy) a long way. They suffered only one out-of-conference loss and took the Ivy League title with an undefeated sweep through the Ancient Eight.

On Sunday, they will host a first round NCAA tournament game against the University of Massachusetts (15-4-1) at Ohiri Field.

After narrowly missing the tournament last year, the Crimson is anxious to get on with their first postseason game in two years.

"I'am sure we'll be nervous and excited when the game begins, wapecially because we'll be in front of the home crowds," said junior midfielder Keren Gudeman.

In addition, the Crimson will be hunting for revenge. The last time Harvard played in the NCAA tournament in 1994, it was eliminated by UMass in the round.

But don't expect all the excitement to make Harvard change its game plan. The Crimson's philosophy all year has been to worry about its own game, and let the oppontent do what it may.

This will be especially true against Massachusetts. Although UMass plays in the same state as the Crimson, the teams have not seen each other all year. According to sophomore Devon Bingham, this is a good thing.

"Because we haven't played UMASS, there are fewer expectations and we can just go out and play our game," she said.

As a result, Crimson pratices have not focussed on containing the Minutemen's game, Instead, Harvard has gone through its standard week of practice.

Harvard can do this because it is the favoite. It has been given a higher seeding than UMass and has suffered only one loss to the Minutemen's four. UMass lost to Dartmouth while the Crimson defeated the Big Green en route to its Ivy title.

A solid effort by the Crimson will most probably translate into a victory.

"If we play to our potential, we should be able to win the game," Gudeman said.

This does not mean that the contest will be an easy one, however. UMass is an athletic team with an impressive record against some difficult of play is akin to Dartmouth's--the team that gave Harvard the most trouble in the Ivy League.

In addition, there is the added variable of tournament pressure. Upsets are the rule rather than the exception come tournament time and the Crimson will need to be wary to avoid a disappointing loss.

But this year's Crimson seems very capable of going a long way in this skilled, but "we genuinely like each other," Binghan said.

That type of togetherness is what often separtates the merely talented teams from the victorious ones in the postseason. If the Crimson continue to play like they have all year, look for Harvard in a second round game next week against the winner of the Dartmouth-UConn game.

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