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Team on a Tear
The 1996 season goes into the record book as an annus mirabilis for the men's soccer team. After an opening-game loss to Cornell, the team won all of the 15 matches left on its schedule, setting new Harvard records for consecutive victories and most victories in a season.
With a 6-1 record in Ivy League action, Harvard also earned its eleventh Ivy championship and an automatic bid to the postseason NCAA soccer tournament. Ranked ninth in the nation at the end of the regular season,
Forward Rich Wilmot had words with Boston University's fullbacks after Harvard tied the score in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Terrier backs had been taunting one of his teammates.Photograph by Jon Chase
But the streak ended in jarring fashion, with a 3-2 overtime loss to the University of Hartford in a second-round game played at Harvard's rain-soaked Ohiri Field on December 1. Hartford's Hawks had set a school record of their own with 16 victories, but were not nationally ranked. The Crimson gave up an early goal by Rob Jachym, Hartford's high scorer and cocaptain, and was forced to play short-handed when sophomore back Andrew Lundquist was sent off for grabbing Jachym's jersey with 18 minutes to play in the second half. Harvard tied the game four minutes later, when sophomore back Lee Williams scored on a header set up by senior captain Will Kohler's corner kick. The team put up a hard fight thereafter, but was overmanned in the double-overtime tie-breaker. Jachym scored two more unassisted goals early in the first overtime to put Hartford ahead 3-1. Freshman Alan Bengtzen drove the ball off a Hartford defender and into the nets as the clock ran down, closing the margin to 3-2. But Harvard could not convert on a corner kick with under a minute to play.
The final whistle ended the team's hopes of advancing in tournament play, but could not efface its prodigious accomplishments during the season. What are winning soccer teams made of? This year's Harvard squad had speed, depth, and plenty of seasoning. Three of its senior leaders--Kohler, T.J. Carella, and Kevin Silva--were four-year starters who played together on Greater Philadelphia kid teams. Carella and senior Rich Wilmot, who transferred to Harvard after two years at Penn State, first teamed up as eight-year-olds. Kohler joined them a year later. Carella, Kohler, and Silva were stars of the F.C. Delco (Delaware County) club team that won a national championship in 1991. Junior Tom McLaughlin, this year's top scorer, and reserves Joby Hollinger '99 and Chinezi Chijioke '00 are also products of the Greater Philadelphia spawning grounds.
Mental agility matters too. Ten of 11 regular starters were nominated by coach Steve Locker for all-academic honors, and Carella and reserve midfielder Jim Quagliaroli were among this year's Harvard candidates for Rhodes scholarships.
But fine-tuning the talents of this stellar squad took time. The 1994 team, with the same core group as this year's, won the Ivy title but lost every nonleague game, posting a record of 5-9-2. Last year's team, beset by injuries, placed fourth in the Ivy League and had an overall record of 6-8-3. Seven contests went into overtime, but Harvard won only one of them.
This season was different. After a nationally ranked Cornell team beat the Crimson, 3-1, in the season's first game, coach Locker reconfigured his starting lineup. McLaughlin moved from the back line to forward. Kohler, a two-time all-Ivy forward, moved to the midfield. Carella, who had seen action as a back the previous year, returned to midfield. Junior Ricky Le, a small, quick midfielder with fine ball skills, shifted to the back line.
A 4-1 rout of Columbia and a 2-1 upset of perennially strong Boston University made it evident that team chemistry had improved. Over the next 10 weeks the team treated a small but loyal troop of followers to much stylish, creative soccer. Harvard secured the Ivy title by beating Brown, 2-1, on November 9, and broke the records for consecutive and seasonal victories in a 4-1 defeat of Hartwick a week later. The old records were set in 1969, when Harvard went undefeated in regular-season play but lost in the NCAA semifinals, finishing 14-1. The 1987 team matched the 14-victory mark.
A harbinger of good things to come was McLaughlin's emergence as a deceptively speedy and skillful attacker. He finished the season with 13 goals and set a new Harvard record with 15 assists. At the other forward position was Wilmot, whose father, Chris '72, was an all-America back on the great Crimson teams of 1969-71. The biggest man on the squad at six-four and 210 pounds, Wilmot the Younger was a dominant presence near the box, accounting for 7 goals and 7 assists. The scoring ability of McLaughlin, Wilmot, and midfielders Carella and Silva took pressure off Kohler, whose breakaway runs and clever footwork have inevitably drawn a lot of defensive coverage. Always a brilliant soloist, Kohler matured as a playmaker this season. He tallied 9 goals and 10 assists, earned first team all-Ivy ranking for the third time, and was named Ivy player of the year.
McLaughlin, the league's overall scoring leader, and goalkeeper Jordan Dupuis '99 also made first team all-Ivy. Dupuis, who split time in the nets with senior Peter Albers, led all collegiate keepers with a regular-season goals-against average of 0.56. Albers allowed 0.94 goals per game and was credited with five of the team's eight shutouts. The four-man back line of Le, senior John Vrionis, Lundquist, and Williams kept opposing attackers at bay. Sophomore midfielder Armando Petruccelli played a key role in advancing Harvard's counterattacks. Bengtzen and fellow freshman reserves Will Hench,
Harvard parlayed two corner kicks into goals in the NCAA tournament rematch with Boston University. Above, back Lee Williams (7) heads Will Kohler's kick as Rich Wilmot (right) screens BU goalkeeper Bryan Murphy. Back John Vrionis (2) headed in the game-winning goal with 1:46 to play.Photograph by Jon Chase
The M.O. was simple but effective: get an early lead and protect it. After the initial loss to Cornell, Harvard would trail only once in a regular-season game. That was against BU in late September. The Terriers took a 1-0 lead, but a second-half goal by Silva provided the equalizer and Wilmot scored the game-winner with two minutes to play.
The pattern of play against BU repeated itself in the NCAA tournament rematch, which drew a crowd of 3,500 to Harvard's Ohiri Field. Only 52 seconds after the kickoff, BU's all-time leading scorer, Nick Bone, got the ball in a scramble in front of the Harvard goal and drove it into the nets. At 12:26 the Terriers scored again when a 40-foot shot by Sigurd Dalen slipped out of Albers's hands. BU had knocked Harvard out of the 1994 tournament with a 2-0 victory in the first round. Was it fated to happen again?
It was not. "We're the kind of team that creates a lot of chances," coach Locker said later. "I told the boys at halftime to be relaxed and confident and stick with our game plan." Harvard put the heat on Terrier goalkeeper Bryan Murphy in the second half, and some BU unruliness helped the Crimson get on the board. With less than 20 minutes to play, Silva made good on a penalty kick after being fouled in the box. Just over a minute later McLaughlin headed Kohler's corner kick past Murphy, tying the score. As the clock wound down, Harvard effectively contained the BU attack and worked to set up the game-breaker. It came on another corner kick by Kohler with less than two minutes remaining. Williams headed the ball, McLaughlin trapped it and flicked it upwards, and Vrionis headed it into the goal. "I don't think anyone on our team felt [BU] could keep us from scoring," Vrionis said after the game.
The short-handed loss to Hartford, played under sloppy conditions, was not the storybook ending that Harvard might justly have hoped for. But the Philadelphia story is not over yet. McLaughlin will be back next fall, along with five other starters and half a dozen promising prospects from this year's freshman class.
Half an Inch from Santa Clara
No one on the Harvard women's soccer team bought tickets for The Game. They planned to be in Santa Clara, California, that weekend, playing in the second round of the NCAA postseason tournament. "I believe we would have gone to the Final Four," says forward Naomi Miller '99, whose speed afoot and electrifying shots helped the Crimson (15-2 overall, 7-0 Ivy) to perhaps its finest season ever. But in a heartrending end to a phenomenal autumn, Harvard fell to the University of Massachusetts, 2-1, in the NCAA first round--in triple overtime. Tears of anguish fell on Ohiri Field after the game and more were shed for days afterward. "A season is a series of moments," muses head coach Tim Wheaton. "And the last moment is one you remember."
It seemed terribly wrong for the splendid campaign to end on such a fluky note. Tied at 1-1 after two hours of intense soccer, the match went to a sudden-death overtime that concluded abruptly on a freak own goal when a UMass cross--not even a shot--took an unlucky bounce off the head of a Harvard defender
Sweeper Jessica Larson '00 reacts to the final game.Photograph by Jon Chase
That, and some help from the officials. Defenders took down Miller twice inside the box without any resulting penalty kicks. In the second overtime period, star Harvard midfielder Emily Stauffer '98, a First Team all-American last year, charged dead on and whistled a shot past Dion that hit the underside of the crossbar at its rear edge. The laws of physics dictate that such a ball cannot fall perpendicularly to earth, but in defiance thereof, the linesman ruled that Stauffer's shot hadn't crossed the goal line. That was one of the moments when the Harvard women were, so to speak, just half an inch from Santa Clara.
Yet the chagrin of the finale ought not obscure the memories of an incandescent season on the pitch. As undefeated Ivy champions for the second straight year, Harvard shut out four Ivy adversaries and allowed the other three just a goal apiece. They took special satisfaction in beating Brown for the second straight year, for two reasons. One was that in 1994, Brown scored two late goals to tie Harvard at 3-3 and thus picked Harvard's pocket of the Ivy title. Second, winning is the best answer to the brutal play for which Brown has become notorious. "They are constantly hitting you, punching you, pulling on your shirt," says midfielder Dana Tenser '97. "By doing this stuff they try to compensate for what they lack in skill and speed." Adds cocaptain Meg Kassakian '97, "Brown is just dirty--they do cheap, really inappropriate stuff. The ball isn't even near you and they'll be pulling on your shorts." This year, Brown had only one Ivy win and finished next to last in the league; in their 3-1 loss to Harvard, the sole Bruin tally came from an own goal by a Crimson defender. Mirroring their team's no-class act, Brown rooters cheered that score for several minutes.
The Crimson also had individual milestones to celebrate. Stingy freshman goalkeeper Anne Browning led the
Forward Naomi Miller '99 used dazzling foot speed, innate field sense, and torpedo-like shots to lead the Ivies in scoring.Photograph by Jon Chase
Expect the cheers to continue well into the future. Harvard graduates only three seniors next June and the team chemistry is superb. The elegant, fluid play of this side that dribbles so adroitly and plays balls to each other's feet should reach a new level of maturity in the fall. And they have a score to settle; in the past three years, UMass has twice eliminated Harvard in the NCAA tournament's first round. "To me, a good player will think for only two or three days about something bad that happened," says Miller. "Then, you don't forget the hurt, but you use it as a propelling force." Other teams need beware of that propellant. This fall, Harvard's soccer women cried in each others' arms as the late-November sun set early on their season. A year hence, they may well see the light of December.
Harvard-Yale football is not for the faint-hearted. Fighting off a furious Yale rally, this year's Harvard squad left the Stadium with a 26-21 victory that was one of the diciest in the 113-game series.
The Eli players did their utmost to pull out a win for retiring coach Carmen Cozza, who's hung up his
Rich Linden became the first freshman quarterback to start against Yale in modern times. He passed for one touchdown and ran for another.Photograph by Jim Harrison
The years when Harvard-Yale games decided the Ivy title seem to be long gone. (The last one was 1987.) For the past five seasons both teams have entered The Game with losing records. Each side had only one Ivy victory going into this year's contest. But it was a good one. With freshman quarterback Rich Linden running its offense adroitly, Harvard rocked Yale with three second-quarter touchdowns and held a 21-0 lead at halftime. The first score came on a short pass from Linden to senior tight end Andrew Laurence. Wide receiver Colby Skelton '98 set up the second with an exciting 38-yard scamper on a reverse. Linden scored the third on a 10-yard quarterback draw.
In the second half Yale self-ignited. Quarterback Kris Barber found his passing touch and hooked up with wide receiver Clint Rodriguez for a third-period touchdown. A two-point safety and a field goal by Ryan Korinke '99 increased Harvard's margin to 26-7 in the final period, but Yale hung tough. With less than seven minutes to play, the Blue scored again on a 60-yard drive, made good on a two-point conversion attempt, recovered an onside kick, and scored once more on a pass from Barber to end Heath Ackley. With the score 26-21 and 2:11 on the clock, Yale needed a two-point conversion and a field goal to force the game into overtime--a new wrinkle in NCAA football this year. Its sideline tacticians called for a pass from halfback Jabbar Craigwell to Barber, but defensive end Tim Fleiszer '98 broke up the play. When Yale again tried an onside kick, Harvard's Jeff Compas '98 and Chad Lechner
Halfback Eion Hu set new Harvard records by carrying 41 times for 177 yards against Yale.Photograph by Jim Harrison
The Game was the last in the brilliant college career of senior Eion Hu, Harvard's industrial-strength running back. Hu, who played all season with torn knee cartilage, gained a total of 177 yards rushing against Yale--breaking a Harvard record he'd set the previous year--and scored the team's second touchdown. His career total of 3,073 yards rushing makes him the first Crimson player to gain 3,000 yards or more.
As the first freshman to start at quarterback in The Game's modern era,
Loyal dog Ulf, with Scott Salisbury '92.Photograph by Jim Harrison
To the relief of third-year coach Tim Murphy and his entire squad, Harvard's victory snapped an unprecedented 12-game losing streak at the Stadium. In his postgame press conference Murphy also noted that Harvard had won the Big Three championship for the first time since 1987. True, but let's not get carried away. This year, for the first time in 40 years of round-robin play, the once-proud Big Three ended up at the bottom of the Ivy League standings.
The gate at The Game continues to dwindle. The official attendance figure was 24,470--the smallest crowd to witness a Harvard-Yale contest since 1942.
Charlie the Great
How good is basketball pheenom Allison Feaster '98? Well, in her freshman year, she once successfully faked National Basketball Association star Shaquille O'Neal, then with the Orlando Magic. It seems the Magic were practicing at Harvard before a game against the Boston Celtics when O'Neal spotted Feaster at courtside and sent an emissary to ask if she was single. "I told him no, I wasn't," says Feaster, admitting to a flagrant falsehood (though she does have a long-term boyfriend). Friends and even Feaster's mother shook their heads at the idea of putting off one of the superstars of sport. But Allison Feaster has never been daunted by the big boys. And on the basketball court, there are few, if any, big girls who can contain her.
Last year, as a sophomore, Feaster was named Ivy League Player of the Year, and won an honorable mention for the UPI
Hoopster Allison Feaster '98 dwarfs the competition.Photograph by Tim Morse
Last year, the Harvard women's team dominated the Ivy League with a 13-1 record; they went 20-7 overall and, for the first time ever, competed in the NCAA tournament, where, despite losing in the first round, Harvard put a scare into powerhouse Vanderbilt. The Crimson led at the half, 41-40; Vanderbilt finally prevailed, 100-83, but Harvard twice came within five points in the game's closing minutes.
Vanderbilt had the tallest frontcourt in the country, and Harvard had one of the shortest, so Delaney-Smith placed all five players on the perimeter and told them to gun from the cheap seats. As a result, Harvard broke the NCAA record for three-point field goals in a game, hitting an amazing 16 of 30 shots. "We've been one of the top three-point shooting teams for 9 of the last 10 years--both in attempts and in shots made," says Delaney-Smith. "It's my emphasis, and it's contagious."
Feaster has caught the contagion. Her high-school coach told Delaney-Smith that Feaster had three-point range, but wouldn't shoot the treys. Now, she drains three-pointers coming off several types of fakes. But that is only one aspect of a player who is "a coach's dream," says Delaney-Smith. "She can do everything."
Feaster began playing hoop in fifth grade in her hometown of Chester, South Carolina. For two years she played only with boys. By seventh grade Feaster was so good that she started at forward for her high school girls' team, which she led to a 103-19 record in her last four years there. An offensive machine, Feaster set the all-time state scoring record--3,427 points--for both girls and boys. Many of those points came off rebounds, put-backs, steals: young Feaster had no real moves. Yet she was a valedictorian and became one of the most heavily recruited seniors in the country. She chose Harvard for many reasons, including the Charles River and what she describes as the "atmosphere."
Allison Feaster arrived at Harvard to find that the basketball team already had an Allyson and an Alison. "Call me Charlie," she said, activating a family moniker derived from her middle name, Sharlene. Before long, the whole league knew who Charlie was: she led the Ivies (and was fourteenth in the nation) in rebounding with 11.8 per game; she was Ivy Rookie of the Week six times; she ranked fourth in the league in scoring with a 16.5 point average, and helped Harvard to a 13-6 overall mark and second-place Ivy finish (5-2, the best record since 1987-88)--all in her freshman year.
After terrorizing the league for two seasons as a forward, look for Feaster to unleash more mischief this season as a shooting guard. At 5 feet, 11 inches, Feaster says she was "one of the smallest Division I forwards. As a guard, I'll be average-to-tall." Delaney-Smith adds that Feaster "plays the game tall. She'll be hard to match up against--there's no guard who can defend her effectively. We'll run her all over the floor; she can create her own shot. You can't defend her post move, you can't double-team her, or box her out."
Consequently, Harvard should be even harder to stop this year as it defends its Ivy League championship. Although the squad graduated four seniors, including three starters, Feaster says, "We each have improved greatly as individuals, and that can only make the team better. We already have great team chemistry. We're not settling for anything less than a tournament berth."
An economics concentrator who lives in Quincy House, Feaster is also setting her personal sights high. After college, she says she hopes to play in a professional league either in this country or overseas. Her ultimate dream? To be "the first female commissioner of the NBA."
But first, there is a long winter of basketball ahead. And next fall, Feaster gains a new teammate, Gitika Srivastava of Jamshedpur, India, an early admittee to Harvard's class of 2001. At 6 feet, 10 inches, Srivastava will be the tallest woman in intercollegiate basketball; her dad is 7 feet, 4 inches, and Shaquille O'Neal doesn't intimidate him, either.~Craig Lambert