M. Lax Stunned by Dartmouth, 14-13
HANOVER, N.H.--For the Harvard men's lacrosse team, Saturday afternoon's matchup with the Dartmouth Big Green was intensely forget-table.
It was apparent from the windy downpour that greeted the team upon its arrival in normally tranquil Hanover that the afternoon was going to be a long one. But the downpour was no match for the cold water Dartmouth dumped on Harvard.
With the game tied at 13 with five seconds remaining, Dartmouth attackman Brian Merritt scored on an incredible shot from the right side of the goal, giving the Big Green (5-7, 2-4 Ivy) a 14-13 upset victory over No. 17 Harvard (7-6, 4-2).
Merritt, standing on the right side of the goal almost aligned with the post of the net, fired a shot that just barely went between freshman Harvard netminder Arthur Chen (12 saves) and the far post, landing in the upper left corner of the net.
For Harvard, the last-second loss was the culmination of a frustrating day.
"Dartmouth came out and played with effort, and we didn't," a disappointed Harvard coach Scott Anderson said. "We had an opportunity to go 5-1 in the Ivy League."
At the outset, things didn't seem bad at all for the Crimson, which maintained possession for almost all of the first seven minutes of the game.
Harvard notched its first two goals in this period, the first from junior midfielder Owen Leary, who scored on Harvard's opening possession. Three minutes later, junior attackman Jim Bevilacqua grabbed a feed in front of the net from his brother, junior midfielder Lou Bevilacqua, and pumped a shot past Dartmouth netminder Andy Dance (18 saves).
But midway through the first quarter, with the Crimson still clinging to a 2-0 lead, the team unraveled, and Dartmouth reentered the contest.
With seven minutes gone in the first quarter, Dartmouth's John Whelen scored on Chen. Chen was making his first career start, replacing Harvard captain Rob Lyng, who was out with a hand injury.
Twenty seconds later, Dartmouth's Scott Watts sent an equalizer past Chen, tying the game at two. After trading goals, including a second tally by Leary, the teams ended the first quarter in a 4-4 tie.
The second half proved rougher for the men in Crimson, who were outscored 5-2. The defense had difficulty keeping Dartmouth away from the crease, and Chen spent a lot of time coming out of the net to smother shots from the crease or to check Dartmouth sticks.
"We had no real effort on defense, in terms of sliding," Anderson said. "When you let a team beat you by allowing the people who you know are their best players to score all the goals, that's not much of an effort."
In addition, Harvard came out on the short end of the stick in recovering ground balls, with Dartmouth recovering 43 to Harvard's 37.
"We got caught ball-watching," Leary said. "I think a big thing in the first half was ground balls--they beat us to a lot of ground balls."
Harvard closed the gap in the third quarter with four goals at the outset and five total for the period, while holding Dartmouth to a single goal, to take a razor-thin 11-10 lead into the final stanza. The teams traded leads in the fourth quarter, with Merritt's goal deciding the outcome in the waning seconds of the contest.
The Crimson's lone bright spot was Leary, who scored five goals.
"Owen has that capability. We'd like to get that out of him every game; he's a little bit hot and cold," Anderson said. "Hopefully he can take that and move on with it."
Merritt had a career day of his own for the Big Green, tallying five goals and an assist as well.