It was out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire for the 18th ranked Harvard men's lacrosse team.
The laxmen (5-4, 3-1 Ivy) were given little time to regroup following their 19-6 loss to the top ranked and undefeated Princeton Tigers as the 11th ranked UMass Minutemen (6-4) rolled into town yesterday for a game at Ohiri field.
The Minutemen employed their fast paced, transition offense to quickly jump out to a 4-0 lead. And they never looked back defeating the Crimson 12-6.
With the Crimson beset by a myriad of injuries, including top scorer Mike Ferrucci's shoulder, falling into a hole like that to a talented opponent spelled doom.
"We got a lot of guys hurt right now," Coach Scott Anderson Said. "We're not going to come back against anyone right now, if we're down, and not executing our fundamentals, it's going to be a long day."
Injuries aside, the Crimson style of play is not one that functions well working from a deficit. Harvard prefers a slowed down, possession offense that eats the clock and takes pressure of the defense.
"It really helps to get the ball down on offense and pass it around," Senior captain Rob Lyng said. "It really helps you relax into it and play well, and they didn't let us do that. They didn't let us be patient, they controlled the ball and the tempo for the first quarter. You've got to hand it them, they didn't let us get set on offense or defense."
The Minutemen dominated in most aspects of the game. They outshot the hobbled Crimson 46-25, and collected 14 of 20 faceoffs. Harvard also had trouble clearing the ball as UMass employed a full field ten-man ride that played havoc with the Crimson clear.
Following the initial 4-0 UMass run, the Crimson were finally able to get on the board when Junior Doug Crofton dodged his man and beat Minuteman goalie John Kasselakis stick-side high with one second to go in the first quarter.
The two teams then traded a pair of goals, including a perfectly executed inside roll from behind the cage by Crimson junior Owen Leary.
UMass was able to net one more goal before the half to make it a 7-3 game at the break.
The Minutemen came out of the gates firing as senior attackman Brendan Glass scored two of his four goals in the fist five minutes of play.
Harvard tried to answer as they came back with two goals of their own. Junior attackman Jim Bevilaqua recorded the second of these when he beat his man cleanly behind the cage and uncorked a shot through the oncoming slide that blew by Kasselakis' ankles.
But the deficit was too much for the Crimson to overcome. They managed to net one more goal in the fourth quarter on senior Jon Lopez's rip from the restraining box, but the Minutemen played kill-the-clock for the final three minutes en route to their win.
There were bright spots in the losing effort. Lyng, distinguished last week with an Ivy League honor roll selection, had another great day in net as he picked up 19 saves. Harvard was also able to kill all of their penalties successfully as the man-down squad was stifling.
The laxmen will have to put this hard-fought loss to a high-quality opponent out of their mind because the final four games of the season will be no cake walk. The Crimson will have to secure all of these as wins, and hope for the best, in order to gain admittance to the elite NCAA tournament.
"This hurts plain and simple," Lyng said. "We got some tough guys to play. Yale's really picked it up in the second half of the season. And Dartmouth, that's the kind of rivalry that no matter who's ranked what it always comes down to a one or two goal game."
The Crimson begin their quest to stay alive for a tournament bid when they host the Yale Bulldogs at 1 p.m. this Saturday. G: UMass--Glass 4, McKeefrey 2, Grande 2, Costello 2, Kennedy, Heinze; Harvard--Leary 2, Crofton, J. Bevilacqua, Lopez, von Zuben. A: UMass--Massey 2, Negus, McKeefrey, Grande, Kennedy; Harvard--J. Bevilacqua. S: UMass--Kasselakis 9; Harvard--Lyng 19.
G: UMass--Glass 4, McKeefrey 2, Grande 2, Costello 2, Kennedy, Heinze; Harvard--Leary 2, Crofton, J. Bevilacqua, Lopez, von Zuben. A: UMass--Massey 2, Negus, McKeefrey, Grande, Kennedy; Harvard--J. Bevilacqua. S: UMass--Kasselakis 9; Harvard--Lyng 19.