Harvard Red Line has been in and out of Nationals over the years. They’ve never done better than quarterfinals, and are looking for the opportunity to breakthrough. The time may be now, with a strong crew that has won their Region and battled with the best teams.
Throughout the early part of the 2011 Season, Harvard was defined by injuries. Captain Whitt Virgin-Downey, “Injuries have affected our season in a lot of ways. With respect to our handler core, Andrew Vogt, Adam Fagin and myself all missed time at the beginning of the season. At Warm Up, we struggled at first but our other handlers stepped up big time later in the tournament and filled in their roles admirably. The experience they gained early in the year has absolutely made us a better team. Additionally our we benefited hugely from the mid-season return of Devon Williams from a groin injury. He has taken on tough defensive assignments and given some rest to George Stubbs and senior Jason Sherman on the D-line.”
George Stubbs has been the main cog in the Red Line train, and is one of the favorites to win the Callahan this year. With his Ironside pedigree, Stubbs is a playmaker from any position. Due to aforementioned injuries, he has been required to handle for the majority of the year. While deadly as a receiver, his ability to huck the disc is considered one of the best in the college game. Whether it be a layout D, or layout grab, Stubbs is the center piece that makes Harvard capable of beating any team.
Harvard is now the 5th seed at Nationals, which was built on a solid regular season record. However, Red Line has yet to leap past that point from dark horse to favorite to win it all. Despite wins over Wisconsin, Iowa, Tufts, Virginia, they have 0 wins against any of the top four seeds. Not only that, but the games haven’t been all that close. If anything though, they can have confidence that the results may be different in Boulder.
Virgin-Downey, “We believe that we can hang with anybody in the country when we are fully healthy. That said, we definitely understand that when it comes to the top teams in the country, we have not proven ourselves to be on that level quite yet. However, nationals is going to be the first tournament where we are fully healthy.” With Andrew Vogt, Virgin-Downey, and Adam Fagin healthy, Stubbs may be allowed to roam freely down field. Frankly, that’s going to be a difficult offense to stop for any crew, allowing Harvard to be in any game.
Injuries may have been a blessing in disguise, as Harvard was unable to keep up with the top teams early in the season. With the younger players now more experienced and gaining confidence, the savvy veterans may get the rest they need to go deep into the tournament. Virgin-Downey, “Last year our run at nationals was basically cut short by us running out of gas. However, we are a deeper team this year and at nationals the deepest teams are always the most successful.”
Pool play is approaching ominously for Harvard. While CUT only took third at North Central, they are still considered by many the most formidable team in the nation. UBC was considered to be a top five team, for most of the season as well, leaving Harvard little room to breath. Virgin-Downey, “Our pool is certainly looking difficult. I don’t think anybody in the country was hoping to see CUT as the 3rd seed in their pool. That said, if we play our game and take pride in our defense I am confident we can be successful.” Red Line may have an Ace in the hole, with an experience coach manning the sidelines. “Josh McCarthy, our coach, always has a great game plan for great teams and everybody in our pool is capable of beating us if we don’t bring our A-game.” Virgin-Downey said.
For those of you who haven’t seen Stubbs play, and will be in Boulder do so. While he does an incredible amount of work, he does a great job of sharing the load with his team. Last year, him and Vogt took down CUT in pool play. With more depth, and an even better Stubbs, Red Line could be breaking through into the semi-finals and more for the first time.