TOP FIVE INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES OF FALL 2009
1. ANDRE AKPAN, MEN'S SOCCER: TWO GOALS, ONE ASSIST IN 4-1 WIN OVER FAIRFIELDWith his four-year career now concluded, Harvard soccer's Andre Akpan will rightfully be considered one of Harvard's greatest athletes ever, and his five-point performance against Fairfield on Sept. makes a strong case for one of his best single-game efforts. Against a capable Fairfield Stags club on their home field, Akpan torched their backline, scoring the first goal of the game in the 33rd minute, assisting on strike partner Brian Rogers' game winner, and sealing the non-conference road win with his second goal in the 60th minute. His dominant attacking performance earned Akpan Top Draw Soccer National Player of the Week honors and continued a five-game win streak to open the 2009 season.
2. GINO GORDON, FOOTBALL: 222 TOTAL YARDS, 3 RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS IN 42-21 WIN OVER DARTMOUTHWhile Tim Murphy has been at the helm of Harvard football, the Crimson have had several great running backs put together outstanding games, and for several reasons, Gordon's efforts on Oct. 31 rank among those dominant offensive efforts. The junior running back turned the Halloween matinee into a nightmare for the Dartmouth defense by totaling 222 yards of offense on just just twelve touches - eight rushes and four receptions. Gordon scored his first touchdown in the second quarter to make it 14-0, then scored twice more on runs in the second half - including a season-long 48 yard scamper for his third score. Gordon finished the game averaging a staggering 18.3 yards per touch, an average suited more for a big-play wideout than a punishing running back. And to finish it all off, Gordon did it while suffering from the flu. But as play-by-play man Alasdair Wilkins astutely noted during WHRB's broadcast, the Dartmouth defense was never in danger of catching the flu from Gordon, because they couldn't lay a hand on the powerful tailback all day. Last but not least, this was the first time in the long history of Harvard football a player accumulated 100 yards rushing and receiving in a single game, making the afternoon even more memorable for Gordon.
3. CONOR MORRISON, MEN'S HOCKEY: FOUR GOALS IN 6-5 OT LOSS TO BOSTON UNIVERSITYConor Morrison comes from a well-known Canadian hockey family, but the diminutive and speedy freshman was not one of the most prominent names in the Crimson's heralded freshman class. On November 24 though, the freshman made a strong case to be considered a key scorer for the Crimson. Morrison's individual effort against BU on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving was the best goal-scoring output by a Harvard skater since 1998, when Chris Bala '01 potted four goals. The Ontario native, skating with P.O. Michaud and Daniel Moriarty (the "3M" line), repeatedly found space in the Terrier zone to skate hard to Kieran Millan's net, and Morrison's heads-up and aggressive style of play paid off as he capitalized on repeated BU defensive and goaltending miscues to score his historic four.
4. CHRISTINA KESSLER, WOMEN'S HOCKEY: 130 MINUTES OF SHUTOUT HOCKEY VS. MINNESOTAHarvard and Minnesota are two of the traditional powers of women's hockey, but in recent years the Golden Gophers have held the edge over the Crimson, sweeping a two game series in Minneapolis last season and before the two teams met in early December, winning eight of the last nine meetings between the two clubs. But none of that seemed to matter to Christina Kessler, as she backstopped the Crimson to a 1-0-1 weekend over the second-ranked Golden Gophers, making 53 saves over the course of two nights to hold Minnesota scoreless for the first time since 2006-2007. Even more impressively, no college goalie had ever shut out Minnesota in consecutive games. Kessler has put together an outstanding four-year career with the Crimson, and pitching two shutouts against the Gophers may have been her finest pair of performances to date.
5. JEREMY LIN, MEN'S BASKETBALL: 55 POINTS IN TWO GAMES AGAINST BOSTON COLLEGE AND UCONNJeremy Lin emerged last season as perhaps the best player in the Ivy League, but so far this season he's raised his national profile significantly as Harvard has gotten off to a 10-3 start. Two of Lin's signature games came against New England opponents Connecticut and Boston College, pouring in a career-high 30 points in a 79-73 loss to the thirteenth-ranked Huskies and adding 25 more in a 74-67 win over the crosstown rival Eagles. While Lin has rightfully become known as a prolific scorer, his well-rounded effort against UConn included nine rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks. If Lin continues to excel on the biggest stages, the Crimson will have a good chance at knocking off Ivy favorite Cornell in league play and making a run at the Ivy League NCAA automatic bid. This post-game quote from UConn head coach Jim Calhoun summed up Lin's abilities succinctly: "He's a terrific basketball player. What I really like about him is he's athletic, more than you think so. He controls his temperament to a really nice tempo. He knows how to play. He's one of the better kids, including Big East guards, who have come in here in quite some time... I really love his composure."
All photos courtesy Harvard Athletic Communications