Troubled by a tough pressure defense, the Harvard men's lacrosse team dropped a 12-5 decision to Cornell Saturday in Ithaca, N.Y.
The Crimson (1-1 overall, 0-1 Ivy League) stayed close to the Big Red until the third quarter, when the hosts scored three unanswered goals to turn a narrow 5-4 lead into a comfortable 8-4 margin.
Harvard had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 early in the first period, but Cornell then changed its defensive strategy, choosing to overplay the Crimson attackmen in hopes of forcing turnovers.
And the tactic worked, as the Big Red flustered the young Harvard team into throwing the ball away, leading directly to four Cornell tallies.
"As soon as they changed their defense, we had a lot of trouble clearing the ball," Harvard Coach Bob Scalise said. "We really didn't have much experience with strong pressure, and it showed in the second half. Still, at times, we played extremely well."
Five different Crimson players put in one goal in the contest--Robert Griffith, Nick Nero, Dean Graham, Steve Lux and Chris Garvey. Griffith and Perry Dodge also added assists for Harvard.
Cornell's tandem of Steve Meyer and John Wurzberger proved unstoppable, as Meyer tossed in four shots and Wutzberger put in three others.
Mike Bergmann had a strong game in goal for the Crimson, turning back 20 shots in the contest. Scalise praised the work of Bergmann in net, as well as the play of Dodge and Rob Graft, who was forced to guard Big Red threat Tim Goldstein and held him to only one goal in the game.
"We realize what we have to work on now." Scalise said. "Most of the season is ahead of us, and we need to gain a little n.ore composure in tough situations like the one this weekend."
Playing on the artificial turf at Cornell also proved a difficult challenge for the Crimson. The fast-paced turf game was an unfamiliar one for Harvard, which practiced this week on Ohiri Field--a natural grass site made even slower with the wet conditions.
But the Crimson isn't done with the carpet yet. Harvard's next game is tomorrow night at Boston College, played on the Eagles' artificial turf. The Crimson will return to natural-turf action Saturday, when the squad hosts the University of Pennsylvania at Ohiri Field.
Penn defeated Yale, 15-5, Saturday and is considered to be a main contender for the Ivy League crown.
"As it turns out, our first three league games are probably our most important," Scalise commented. "I'm satisfied with our defense to this point, and we should be able to score enough to win."
THE NOTEBOOK: The last time the Crimson won the Ivy League title was in 1980, when it shared the crown with Cornell...The Big Red have won the most Ivy League titles with 16...Princeton, which copped seven crowns in a row between 1957 and 1963, had won the second most (10)...Penn has been the latest sensation in men's lacrosse, earning three of the last four league championships...Harvard is 72-106 all-time in the Ivy League, which is well behind the Big Red (136-41)...Since the award was initiated in 1974, Harvard has never had an Ivy League Player of the Year.