The Harvard men's lacrosse team had a shot at a winning record. It had a shot at tying Yale for third in the vies. And it had a shot at rebounding from a frustrating first half of the season with a remarkable seven-game winning streak.
But yesterday, on the lacrosse fields in Ithaca N.Y., the dream died, as Harvard fell to Cornell 11-9.
The team would not be left with the satisfaction of a winning season or a third place finish.
Instead, Harvard was left with the bitter taste of a frustrating loss to a team that it should have beaten.
The Crimson (7-8, 2-4 Ivy) came into the game riding high, with a six game winning streak. The Big Red (4-7, 3-3 Ivy), on the other hand, had lost three straight.
It appeared that the Johnnies just might cruise to their seventh victory in a row, securing a winning season. But that's why they play the games.
Yesterday, Harvard just did not convert offensively with the same potency that characterized its winning streak. The Crimson got the shots but not the goals.
On the game, Harvard outshot Cornell 41-32. The trouble is, Cornell's shots found the back of the net.
The Crimson's inability to score was most apparent in the fatal third quarter. Heading into the second half, the game was tied, 5-5. Two late goals from Harvard sophomore Will Newell and freshman Chris Wojcik in final 1:20 of the first half evened the score.
Harvard appeared to have the momentum on its side, that is until the third quarter began. Unfortunately for the Crimson, its ugly twin--the unlucky, tired team that wore the crimson and white for the first half of the season--reared its head.
In the third stanza, Cornell popped in three goals to Harvard's zero. The Crimson had six shots on net, but Cornell freshman netminder Michael LaRocco turned them all away.
Harvard did battle back in the fourth, but it was too little too late. In the first five minutes of the final period, sophomores Pat Marvin and Dan Nicklas scored a goal each to cut Cornell's advantage to 9-7. And at 11:17, Ed Sim responded to another Cornell goal with one of his own to put the score at 10-8.
But Harvard just could not erase the four goal lead. And at 13:45, the Big Red's John Busse officially laid the Crimson to rest. Busse's goal marked the end of Harvard's last ditch effort and, also of its season. The goal marked the end of an up-and-down, topsy turvy campaign.
But one thing must be said: Harvard battled back from a 1-7 record. No one believed that Harvard had a shot at a winning season. With one win and seven losses, the season had been declared over. But then came the six wins in a row.
Ultimately, the streak fell one game--or even one quarter--short. Yet with the experience that a young squad gathered this year, Harvard has something to build on for next year.
With another season under their belts, the Crimson youngsters will cause some problems in the Ancient Eight next spring.
NOTEBOOK: Freshman Mike Eckert ended the season as Harvard's leading scorer. With an assist up in Ithaca, the rookie ended his freshman campaign with 38 points (17 goals, 21 assists). That was good enough to place him tied for sixth (with another freshman, Andy Crofton from Penn) in league scoring...Another underclassman, sophomore Spencer Rice, was named to the Ivy League honor roll following his game winning goal against Dartmouth.