With two Major League Lacrosse all-stars in the stands watching him, sophomore attack Mike McBride made their trip worthwhile, scoring a hat trick to propel the Harvard men’s lacrosse team to a 9-3 victory over Hartford.
McBride tallied three consecutive goals in front of Brian Carcaterra and John Gagliardi of the Rochester Rattlers and the Long Island Lizards of the MLL, respectively, his friends and mentors who had traveled from Connecticut to watch him play on Jordan Field on Saturday.
McBride’s strikes all came in a 6:53 span in the third quarter and broke a 2-2 tie.
“Mike’s a great leader on and off the field,” sophomore midfielder Zach Chandis said. “He gets everyone mentally prepared for the game.”
The Hawks (1-1) pressured the Crimson (1-1) from the outset, outshooting Harvard 7-3 in the first period.
Although Travis Eckler, the reigning America East Player of the Week, was able to slip a goal in for Hartford, Crimson junior goaltender Jake McKenna prevented any more damage with four saves in the frame. For the game, McKenna saved six of the nine shots on goal.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the defense,” McBride said. “Especially to Jake in goal.”
Although Harvard outshot Hartford 13-2 in the second period, it found itself behind by two goals when Chris Sauro scored at the 5:48 mark to put the Hawks up 2-0.
Fourteen second later, the Crimson finally got on the board, as tri-captain attack Matt Primm picked up a loose ball in front of the net and fed junior attack Anders Johnson, who faked out Hartford goaltender Rorke Greene and slipped the ball into the goal.
But despite continuing to pressure the Hawks, Harvard went into halftime trailing 2-1.
In the third period, the Crimson wasted little time erasing that deficit as tri-captain midfielder Doug Logigian ripped a shot past Green at 13:53.
Then, McBride took over.
Chandis led a fast break and fed McBride, who finished it to put Harvard up 3-2.
Johnson then recovered a ground ball and found McBride in front of the net, stretching the Crimson’s advantage to two goals.
McBride capped off his hat trick off the rebound of a Primm shot.
“McBride’s shooting today was strong,” Chandis said. “He has a knack for molding opposing defenses the way he wants, like Playdough.”
Freshman attack Colin Macleod continued the onslaught, taking a pass from Primm in front and sliding it into the net.
Eckler added a goal for the Hawks to make the score 6-3, but Primm quickly responded with two strikes.
For the first, he took a pass from senior midfielder Jay Wich and ripped a shot, putting Harvard back up by four.
Primm tallied his next goal when he cut across the crease, caught a pass from Johnson, who was stationed behind the net, and took a quick shot that beat Greene.
The game was Primm’s first action of the year. He missed the Crimson’s season-opening, 10-2 loss to Bucknell with pneumonia. Primm had two goals and four assists in his season debut.
Harvard was also bolstered by the return of junior midfielder Jeff Gottschall, who missed the Bucknell game with a high ankle sprain.
“Even though Jeff wasn’t at 100 percent, it was great to get those guys back,” McBride said. “We have such a young team.”
Johnson closed out the scoring by taking a pass from Primm and making a beautiful dodge before depositing the ball in the back of the net, securing the Crimson’s first win.
Harvard outshot Hartford 16-1 in the fourth period.
The Crimson defeated the Hawks in almost every statistical category. In particular, junior midfielder Alex Vap continued his face-off dominance, winning 12 times in 16 opportunities.
“Face-offs were key,” Chandis said. “Alex did a great job winning them.”
Although Harvard outshot Hartford 41-16, it was only able to put 26 of those shots on net.
“Shooting is something that we really need to work on, and have been working on in practice,” McBride said.
Harvard hits the road next weekend, meeting Fairfield on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Crimson defeated the Stags 10-8 at Jordan Field last season, with McBride and Wich each scoring two goals.