The Harvard men's lacrosse team (3-0) pulled out a nail biter yesterday, 8-7, over the Hobart Statesmen (1-2, 1-0 Patriot) at Jordan Field.
The Crimson, ranked 18th in the nation entering the game traded goals with Hobart throughout the contest before staving off a last second man-down situation to preserve the win.
"This game was great for us," Harvard Coach Scott Anderson said. "We needed a challenge and Hobart certainly gave one to us."
With 13 seconds remaining until halftime, Harvard freshman midfielder Jay Wich tied the score at 3 to give the Crimson a lift.
In the third quarter, Hobart senior attackman Jared Bebee found the back of the net with 10:11in a man-advantage situation.
Harvard senior attackman Lawson DeVries answered off of an assist from freshman Matt Primm two minutes later.
After Hobart committed a one-minute slashing penalty, Harvard couldn't manage to get anything going in its set offense, as it couldn't for most of the day, settling for a shot from the perimeter.
"Hobart has a very different defensive style than we are used to seeing," Anderson said. "We didn't adjust well to it and so we didn't generate anything out of our set offense all day."
Luckily for the Crimson, junior defenseman Peter Zaremba intercepted a Hobart pass as the Statesmen were trying to work the ball down to their offensive end of the field. He raced on a fast-break all the way to the Hobart net and scored--putting Harvard ahead 5-4 with 3:57 to go in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter opened with first the Statesmen and then the Crimson operating out of ineffective offensive sets. Harvard senior goalkeeper Keith Cynar was particularly impressive, making multiple saves early in the fourth quarter.
After the Crimson squandered a man-advantage situation, Hobart sophomore attackman Scott Harvey scored on a one-timer from senior defenseman Chris Rogers to tie the game, 5-5.
To add insult to injury, Harvard was called for a one-minute penalty for unnecessary roughness just as the Statesmen scored.
The Crimson penalty-killing unit came up strong denying Hobart a score and Cynar made some more crucial saves.
"Keith was great today," Anderson said. "He is such a strength for us and our defense does a really good job of playing to that strength."
After Harvard killed the penalty, it cleared the ball and went back to its set offense but, as usual yesterday, could only find the back of the net on the fly.
The Crimson used its transition game to great effect and junior attackman Dana Sprong converted a turnover off a Hobart clear into a 6-5 Harvard lead.
"Neither team cleared the ball well today," Anderson said. "We were fortunate the we were able to ride them so effectively since our offense was struggling."
Bebee and Crimson junior midfielder setup the nerve-racking conclusion to the game, each striking off face-off wins in a 45 second timespan to leave the score 7-6 Harvard, with 7:45 to go.
At the 5:00 mark, Harvard sophomore midfielder James Christian was called for a 1:00 slashing penalty. Hobart's Harvey exploited the foul for his second goal to tie the game at 7.
Just after the goal, Cynar made yet another spectacular save to keep the score even, and the Crimson then cleared the ball to DeVries, who was tripped for a thirty second penalty
Crimson junior midfielder Adam McGowan tallied the game winner, winning the battle in front of the goal for a DeVries' rebound with 2:47 to go.
But Harvard had to make one final stand. With :28.7 remaining, captain Jeff Psaki was whistled for a cross-checking penalty, giving Hobart a man-advantage for the rest of the game.
The Crimson defense broke up a pass that Hobart tried to thread though the middle of the field and cleared the ball all the way down to Hobart's end.
Hobart couldn't get the ball down to the other end of the field in time, and the Crimson hung on to win.
Harvard takes its undefeated record with it against Penn, Fairfield and Duke over spring break and fans should be optimistic going into this stretch.
"We proved today that we don't have to play perfectly to win games," Anderson said. "We are going to find out more and more what we're capable of each week."