Harvard (2-2) rolled to an 18-4 victory over the Crusaders (0-5) last night on Jordan Field.
“We started slow last night, just as we have all season,” said junior attack Anders Johnson. “But once the midfield started dodging and picked up the transition, we got the momentum.”
The game was scoreless through the first 7:37 before senior defenseman Joe Nejman intercepted a wayward clearing attempt from Holy Cross goaltender Brian Hodgdon and walked in on an empty net to make it 1-0.
Five seconds later, the Crimson had doubled its lead.
Junior midfielder Alex Vap won the faceoff cleanly to tri-captain Doug Logigian, who shook the Crusader defender covering him and walked in practically untouched to make it 2-0.
Vap was a key for the Crimson all night, winning 16-of-26 faceoffs and allowing Harvard to dominate the time of possession.
“We are a much better team with longer possessions,” said tri-captain Andrew Crocco. “It lets us dictate the pace of play. Luckily we have someone like Alex who will win the faceoffs for us. We rely on him and have just come to expect it.”
In the crucial third period, during which the Crimson turned a 8-3 game into a 14-3 rout, Vap took 7-of-9 faceoffs from his Crusader counterpart, Rudy Anderson.
“Momentum is always important in lacrosse,” Johnson said. “It allows you to get a couple of goals in a very short period of time. We’d score, win the faceoff and get the ball right back.”
A tight Crimson defense, which allowed just 14 shots on goal, also helped Harvard control the pace of the game.
“The key was the ground balls,” Crocco said. “Ever ball that hit the ground we were on top of. It allowed us to clear and not have to play defense for extended stretches.”
The Crimson held a 44-23 advantage in ground balls and were 18-of-19 on clears. At the other end the Crusaders struggled, converting only 14-of-26 clears.
“When you don’t have to play defense for very long, it’s easier,” Crocco said. “It helps you focus and clamp down.”
Despite allowing just five goals and limiting Holy Cross to 14 shots, Crocco was still less than satisfied with Harvard’s performance.
“A lot of us felt five goals was too many to allow given the limited amount of time in our zone,” Crocco said. “Our crease play needs to get better. You can get willed to sleep with not a lot going on, but we still need to stay focused and sharp for a full 60 minutes. It is something we talked about in practice and that we’ll talk about again.”