The Harvard men's lacrosse team fell into the same old hole Saturday at Ohiri Field.
Like most of the games played in the squad's current slump--it has lost three of its last four contests--the Crimson lagged early, and couldn't find enough firepower to blast itself past Adelphi, eventually falling to the Panthers by a 12-7 margin.
With the defeat, Harvard (now 7-4 overall, 3-2 Ivy League) dropped out of contention for an NCAA tournament bid. So far this year, the Crimson is 1-4 against teams ranked in the nation's top 15 spots.
Saturday's loss was especially frustrating because many of the Panthers' early scores were not well-earned. Although the Crimson seemed capable of shutting down the Adelphi offense, it surrendered several sloppy goals and, by the middle of the second quarter, had fallen behind by a 6-0 margin.
Of those first six goals, three came on rebounds of shots blocked by Harvard goalie Mike Bergmann. The visitors picked up another goal when an errant Panther pass deflected off a stick and into the Harvard goal.
"There were too many cheap goals around the crease," Harvard Coach Bob Scalise said. "It was the same thing that cost us the Brown game. Adelphi was quick and put on lots of pressure, earning ground balls and getting open in front of our net."
Still, down by six after only 22 minutes of play, the Crimson mounted a strong comeback. And when the Harvard attack had trouble finding the net, the squad discovered that the best offense is a good defense. Or a good defenseman.
Led by the charges of defensemen Rob Graff and Bill Pennoyer, the Crimson plowed back to narrow the gap to 6-4 at halftime.
Graff and Pennoyer scored just 40 seconds apart, both on solo efforts at the end of field-length rushes, for the first two Harvard goals. After a goal by Brad Raymond, David Kramer registered the fourth tally with 36 seconds left in the half.
But that was as close as the Crimson would come, as the Panthers scored four straight of their own to secure a 10-4 lead. Two of those goals came during a 54-second span midway through the third quarter; the next two clinched the game early in the fourth period.
Harvard attempted one last rally, putting in two goals by Rob Griffith and Kramer only 27 seconds apart with 10 minutes left in the game, but Adelphi responded with two more of its own to wrap up the contest. Another tally by Raymond with less than three minutes left brought the final margin to five, 12-7.
"Right now, we're having a lot of trouble scoring goals," Scalise said. "This is the second game in a row when we were unable to put the ball in the net. I know that this goalie had a good game, but it seems as though other teams are shooting better."
Although there will be no postseason play for the laxmen this year, the squad still has three games remaining, with a strong chance to maintain its winning record and earn a second-place Ivy League finish. The Crimson begins that drive with its final two home games of the year, New Hampshire Wednesday and a Saturday game with Holy Cross.
"We should be able to defeat the rest of our opposition, provided we play well," Scalise said. "We're not good enough to win if we don't have a strong game."
THE NOTEBOOK: The Panthers' Sean Keenan was the high scorer for the game, finishing with five goals, including four in the final period. For the Crimson, Kramer was the top point-scorer, garnering two goals and one assist.