The Crimson Triumphant

25 high moments in Harvard athletics, 1986-2011

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The past quarter-century was an era of prosperity for Harvard athletics. Varsity teams won 184 Ivy League championships in 17 different sports, while 11 teams captured national titles in crew, fencing, hockey, lacrosse, sailing, and squash. More than 30 individual athletes won national titles.

These were some of the era's memorable moments:

November 16, 1986. After an hour and 50 minutes of tense, scoreless action, a penalty-kick shootout gives the men's soccer team a 2-1 victory over Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Harvard reaches the tournament semifinals for the first time since 1971.

November 21, 1987—Harvard beats Yale in a 14-10 cliffhanger to take the Ivy League title.

Photograph by Joe Wrinn

November 21, 1987.  With the wind chill at minus 10, the football and men's soccer teams clinch Ivy League titles within hours of each other in New Haven. The unbeaten soccer team holds Yale's defending champions to a 0-0, double-overtime draw, and the gridders top the Blue in a 14-10 cliffhanger. The soccer team again makes the NCAA semifinals.

March 4, 1989. Olympic medalist David Berkoff '88 ('89), the world record-holder in the 100-meter backstroke, competes in his final swimming meet at Blodgett Pool and wins his second NCAA title.  

April 1, 1989. A 4-3 overtime victory over Minnesota at St. Paul's Civic Center brings the men's hockey team an NCAA championship. Wing Ed Krayer '89 gets the decisive goal. Captain Lane MacDonald '88 ('89), wins the Hobey Baker Award as the nation's top college player.


April 1, 1989—The men's hockey team captures an NCAA championship.

Photograph by Bruch Kluckhohn

June 2, 1989. Meredith Rainey '90 places first in the 800-meter event at the national track and field championships in Provo, Utah. Rainey is the Ivy League's first woman athlete to win a national title. 

May 20, 1990—The women's lacrosse team comes from behind to win the NCAA championship.

Photograph by Jerry Millevoi

May 20, 1990. Climaxing a 15-0 season, the women's lacrosse team comes from four goals down to upset Maryland, 8-7, in the NCAA championship final. Two-time all-American Charlotte Joslin '90, a three-sport athlete (field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse), closes out her college athletic career with a twelfth varsity letter and a twelfth all-Ivy citation.

November 10, 1991. With 25 seconds to play, all-Ivy midfielder Becky Gaffney '92 scores the game-winner to defeat Princeton, 2-1, giving Harvard an Eastern field hockey championship. 

March 1, 1992. Jeremy Fraiberg '92 and sister Jordanna '94 both win national collegiate squash championships. Harvard also claims the men's and women's team titles.

November 9, 1996. The women's soccer team, sparked by all-American midfielder Emily Stauffer '98, captures a second consecutive Ivy title, defeating Brown, 3-1, in a downpour. The team's regular-season record of 15-1 sets a standard that remains unmatched.

May 10, 1997. The men's tennis team rallies to gain a 4-3 victory over powerhouse Miami in NCAA regional play. Captain Mitty Arnold '97 and Thomas Blake '98 go on to the semifinals of the national doubles tournament, the best showing for a Crimson duo in 70 years.

May 22, 1997. Frank Hogan '97, the Ivy League's pitcher of the year, throws eight strong innings as the baseball team upsets fourth-ranked UCLA, 7-2, in the NCAA tournament's opening round.

March 14, 1998.  Behind 35 points and 13 rebounds from co-captain Allison Feaster '98, the women's basketball team stuns top-seeded Stanford, 71-67, in an NCAA first-round game. Harvard is the only sixteenth-seeded team ever to oust a top seed in tournament play.

April 28, 1998. Ace pitcher Tasha Cupp '98 crafts a perfect game as the softball team defeats Rhode Island, 3-0. Unbeaten in its 12 Ivy League contests, the team makes its NCAA debut in May.

March 27, 1999—The Harvard women's ice-hockey team win the national championship.

Photograph by Bill Alkofer Photo/St. Paul Pioneer Press

March 27, 1999. The women's hockey team defeats New Hampshire, 6-5, in a national championship final. Angie Francisco '01 has a hat trick; Jennifer Botterill '02 scores the deciding goal. The team finishes with a 30-game unbeaten streak and a record of 33-1.

June 5, 2001. Three women track stars are NCAA titlists: Dora Gyorffy '01 wins the outdoor high jump, Kart Siilats '02 wins the indoor high jump, and co-captain Brenda Taylor '01 wins the 400-meter hurdles.

November 17, 2001. Coach Tim Murphy's football team completes Harvard's first unbeaten, untied season (9-0) since 1913, capping it by outscoring Yale, 35-23, at Yale Bowl.

May 31–June 1, 2003. Men's and women's crews win three national titles in a span of two days. The men's heavyweight and lightweight boats take firsts at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta at Camden, New Jersey; a day later, Radcliffe's heavies outrow top-ranked Stanford to earn an NCAA championship at Indianapolis.

March 20, 2004. Jesse Jantzen '04 wins the national 149-pound wrestling title. The NCAA crown is the first for a Harvard grappler since 1938.

June 3, 2005. The sailing team wins the women's intercollegiate championship—the team's third women's or coed title in four years.

November 19, 2005. In the Ivy League's first triple-overtime game, the football team overcomes a 21-3 second-half deficit at Yale Bowl, ties the score with just over three minutes to play, and prevails at last, 30-24. Halfback Clifton Dawson '07, who will graduate as the Ivy League's all-time rushing and scoring leader, makes the tie-breaking touchdown.

March 19, 2006. With nine all-Americans competing in foil, sabre, and épée, the men's and women's fencing teams win their first national championship. Benji Ungar '08 is the individual champion in épée.

August 16, 2008. Emily Cross '08, the women's fencing team's first NCAA titlist, is a silver medalist at the Beijing Olympics.

November 21, 2009. The football team records a fifth straight win at Yale Bowl, scoring two late touchdowns in a 14-10 thriller. Quarterback Collier Winters '10 throws long passes for both Crimson tallies.

March 7, 2010. Senior Colin West '10 and freshman Laura Gemmell '13 win national squash titles. The unbeaten women's squad (12-0) wins a national team championship for the twelfth time in program history.

March 5, 2011. The renascent men's basketball team (23-7, 12-2 Ivy) defeats Princeton, 79-67, to give Harvard a share of the Ivy title for the first time since the inception of formal league play in 1956.


Read more articles by John T. Bethell

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