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W. Soccer Shooting For 7-0 Ivy Mark


In sports, good is never good enough. There is no time to rest on one's laurels. To get complacent is to lose an edge and losing an edge is deadly.

No one seems to know this better than the Harvard women's soccer team. The Crimson (14-1, 6-0 Ivy) appear ripe for a letdown this tomorrow, as the team plays league doormat Brown (3-9-3, 1-3-2) at home after clinching an NCAA berth and a share of the Ivy League championship with last week's victory over rival Dartmouth. With the postseason secured, the Crimson seem to have nothing to play for.

But don't count on a lackadaisical effort from this edition of the Crimson. The players have been intense all year, and it would be foolish to expect any letup with the NCAA tournament upcoming. One of the hallmarks of exceptional teams is that they maintain their focus for the games that seem to have no meaning.

And the Crimson seem to be an unusually talented and focused squad.

"This team is the best we've had since I've been here, and you could make a strong argument that it's the best Harvard women's soccer team ever," senior Rachel Chernikoff said.

The record supports Chernikoff's contention. The Crimson, ranked as high as eighth in one national poll, has a 20-game Ivy League winning streak and is chasing the Ivy record of 24 consecutive wins.

Ironically, the record is held by Brown (not this year's team) and the Crimson would love nothing more than to advance a step closer to the mark by beating the school it is chasing. This is one of the motivations the Crimson will use to "get up" for this game.

Another motivation is revenge. The last time Brown played on Harvard's field, the Crimson lost a 3-1 lead and had to settle for a tie against the Bears. Had the Crimson held on to win, Harvard would have won the Ivy League Championship, but instead that honor went to Brown. Now, Harvard wants blood.

"We want to kick their butts," freshman Beth Zotter said, revealing that she has imbibed some Brown hatred from the elders on the team.

Finally, the prospect of a home game in the NCAA tournament looms largely. If the Crimson win, a coveted home game and high seed in the tournament seem forthcoming. A loss to lowly Brown, however, would degrade the team's standing in the eyes of the almighty and mercurial tournament selection committee.

So the Crimson does not seem to lack for motivation on Saturday. That does not mean that the game will be an easy one, however. Brown, though lacking in talent, plays a physical, defensive minded game that might make things difficult for the more able Crimson.

"We would like to take care of business quickly," said Chernikoff, reflecting the team's need to jump ahead before opening up their attack, "and then maybe have a little fun."

If the rest of the season gives any indication, the Crimson will be having a great 'ole time come tomorrow.

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