The Harvard men's lacrosse team fell behind eighth-ranked Massachusetts, 8-3, at halftime of yesterday's contest in Amherst.
But the Crimson wasn't upset.
It had fallen behind St. John's and Penn at halftime earlier in the season and won.
Even when Harvard was still losing, 10-6, early in the fourth quarter, it wasn't disturbed.
These are the Crimson come-back kids. And pulling out late-game victories has become their trade mark.
But despite Rufus Clark's two late-game goals and a stellar perfomance from goalie Mark Vita, Harvard couldn't pull this one out, losing 10-9 to the Minutemen before 1500 chilly spectators at Boyden Field.
The Crimson (now 6-4 overall) had a man-advantage for the last minute of play.
But despite the crafty ball-handling of Tim McCaffrey, the laxmen couldn't put a shot past UMass goaltender Sal LaCascio, who finished with 13 saves.
"We're a second-half team," Vita said. "We moved the ball around well on the offensive end. And our defense did a good job of shutting them down in the crease. They only took the shots we wanted to give them, from outside. We felt we could win it. We just fell a little short."
The Minutemen (9-1 overall) jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first period and led by five goals at halftime.
And the Crimson--which hasn't lost by more than four goals this year--looked ready to be routed.
But the Harvard offense--most productive in the third quarter, when it has knocked in 30 goals--pumped three shots into the UMass nets to cut the Minuteman lead to 8-6 at the end of the third stanza.
The huge crowd, the largest the Crimson has played before this season, fell silent.
But the home team, behind the play of Tom Carmean--who finished with a game-high four goals--plunked in two goals at the beginning of the fourth period.
Down by four, Harvard had an uphill climb ahead.
"We didn't play terribly well in the first half," Crimson Co-Captain Tom Corcoran said. "But we pulled ourselves together late in the game."
Harvard charged back with three fourth-quarter tallies. Down by only one goal, the Crimson looked like it might salvage another come-from-behind triumph.
But when the Crimson drew a penalty with a minute left, its cause looked hopeless.
That is, until Harvard Coach Bob Scalise asked for a stick measurement on one of the UMass player's sticks. The referees found the stick was indeed too long and the Crimson had the one man advantage.
But in the final minute, it could not convert.
And its slim chances of snagging one of 10 in the NCAA Tournament grew slimmer.
"We'll have to win all of our remaining games," Corcoran said. "And hope we get lucky."
THE NOTEBOOK: The Crimson's next game is at Holy Cross Saturday...Vita finished with eight saves...Harvard got two goals from Brad Raymond, Rob Hurlbut, Chris Pujols and Clark, and one goal from Corcoran.