After dropping two straight games last week, the Harvard men's lacrosse team traveled to Brown yesterday afternoon in search of a win and a much-needed ego boost.
By the end of the afternoon, the No. 15 Crimson (6-2, 2-1 Ivy) had found both, handing the No. 14 Bears (4-5, 1-2 Ivy) a 10-7 loss and obliterating the memories of last week's mediocre performances.
"We're now much more confident than before," said junior midfielder Geoff Watson. "It's all a psychological game, and before [yesterday], we had felt at times that we were letting other people down, but now we've proven to ourselves that we can go out there and play hard every game."
Watson and freshman Matt Primm led the Harvard attack with three goals apiece, and senior Lawson DeVries tacked on two goals and two assists on the afternoon. Senior goalkeeper Keith Cynar continued to anchor the Crimson defense this season, recording 21 saves against the Bears.
Junior Michael Monfett spearheaded the Brown offense with two goals against Harvard.
After suffering a disappointing 12-7 loss to Cornell last Saturday and falling to No.5 Duke by the score of 14-8 earlier in the week, Harvard was determined to bounce back against league rival Brown in order to prove its potential as a serious contender for the Ivy crown.
"We definitely made changes offensively against Brown," Primm said. "We had been relying too much on our defense, and we decided that we needed to try to possess the ball more and take the pressure off our defense."
After a slow start, the Crimson offense soon lit up Stevenson Field. With the Bears leading 1-0, sophomore midfielder Roger Buttles tied the score with an unassisted goal at the 10:37 mark of the first quarter. After another Brown goal, Primm scored his first goal of the afternoon at the start of the second period.
With Harvard and Brown tied at two, the Crimson suddenly ignited its offense and scored three quick goals before the end of the half. Primm scored his second and third goals of the game during the period, and DeVries added the fifth Harvard goal at the 12:24 mark.
With Harvard taking a commanding 5-2 lead into the locker room at halftime, Brown surged back onto the field prepared to outmatch the Crimson offense. The Bears immediately scored two quick goals, slicing the Harvard lead to one.
Watson then scored his second goal, putting Harvard up 6-4, but the Bears scored on an unassisted goal by Jimmy Mormile, cutting the Harvard lead to 6-5.
Facing a sudden threat from the Bears, the Crimson quickly recuperated at the 2:26 mark of the fourth quarter. DeVries scored off an assist by Buttles, beefing up Harvard's advantage to 7-5.
"We weren't going to give in," Primm said. "Sometimes we have the tendency to lose momentum, but today we didn't, and we took advantage of all our opportunities."
The Bears, however, were not ready to surrender. Brown freshman Chas Gessner scored to cut Harvard's lead to 7-6, but the Crimson proceeded to outscore the Bears 3-1 for the rest of the period.
Harvard freshman Jay Wick added on an extra-man goal to increase the Crimson's advantage, and DeVries added his second goal of the game to cement Harvard's 9-6 lead. Watson and the Bears' Monfett exchanged goals to end the game, giving Harvard a 10-7 victory.
"We made a lot of mistakes during the game, but we also did the little things that people don't keep records of," Watson said. "We played hard throughout the game."
After struggling during its last two contests, the Crimson is ready to erase the mediocrity of last week's performances and to prove its mettle to the rest of the league.
"After [the loss to] Cornell we had a team meeting, and [Head Coach Scott Anderson] put everything into perspective for us," Watson said. "We learned that we all have to be willing to support each other, and we all challenged each other to play hard throughout the entire game."
Harvard's next challenge will come when it plays a crucial league match against Princeton Saturday night to celebrate the dedication of Jordan Field.
"We're going into the game against Princeton with a lot of confidence," Primm said. "It's going to be a really important game for us because it's a Saturday night game and we are expecting big fan support."