Laxmen Restrain Tigers, 11-9

Crimson Perseveres Despite Last-Minute Princeton Charge

Saturday, the Harvard men's lacrosse team didn't play catch-up.

And it didn't squander a fourth period lead.

But it did look back.

After Nick Nero's shot from 15 feet broke a 1-1 tie early in Saturday's game against Princeton at Ohiri Field, the Crimson charged ahead by four goals at halftime and finished with an 11-9 victory before 400 spectators.

The win--its first in three games--lifted the Crimson to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Ivy League.

Meanwhile, the Tigers--who have suffered three one-goal loses this season--fell to 1-9 overall, 1-1 Ivy.

"We moved the ball around well," Harvard Coach Bob Scalise said. "And we had the advantage in team speed."

After wins over Penn and St. John's earlier in the year--in which the Crimson came from behind to pull out upsets in the fourth quarter--Harvard was the favorite in Saturday's contest.

But the Tigers came within striking range late in the second half.

And memories of the Crimson's loss to Yale two weeks ago, in which Harvard took a two-goal lead into the final stanza only to see the Bulldogs run away with a 13-9 triumph, couldn't have been far from the laxmen's minds.

"We might have relaxed a little bit," Scalise said. "And when that happens, you always worry about a comeback."

Princeton fell behind, 11-6, with eight minutes left in the game after Crimson Co-Captain Tom Corcoran, charging from the right, flipped a shot past Tiger goalie John Wright.

But the Tigers pumped in three goals in two minutes to pull within three of a tie game.

Princeton attack John Donovan flipped in a shot from the right with seven minutes left in the contest.

Junior Rick Kirschner followed a minute later with a shove from in close that rolled off Harvard goalie Mark Vita's chest and into the net.

And 33 seconds later, sophomore Rob Palumbo, who finished with a game-high four goals, scooped the ball off the turf and rocketed it into the Crimson net.

Before the Princeton barrage, Vita--who had finished with a season-high 23 saves against Brown Wednesday--looked sharp.

And after each save, the crowd shouted "Vita, Vita" and "Vita la Vita."

But now the crowd wasn't shouting.

And the 6-ft., 1-in. senior net-minder stood alone.

But Vita turned away several Tiger shots in the last five minutes of play to preserve the Crimson victory.

"No matter how ugly it would have gotten, we would have won," Co-Captain Chris Pujols said. "I had faith in Vita."

THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson's next game is Wednesday against the University of Massachusetts in Amherst...Vita finished with 13 saves, Wright recorded five...Corcoran, Pujols and freshman attack Brad Raymond led the Crimson in scoring with two goals each...Pujols was the assist leader with two...Princeton's only win this year came against Yale, 9-8, in overtime...Harvard owns a 5-1 record at Ohiri Field this year...Harvard is now 5-0 in games in which the opponent has scored less than 10 goals....Pujols leads the Crimson in scoring with 18 goals and 11 assists...Corcoran is first in goals with 19.