This was especially true for the Harvard men’s lacrosse team on Saturday when—just a week removed from an 11-goal thrashing of Hartford—the preseason No. 25 Crimson (1-1) was on the receiving end of an identical margin, falling 15-4 to preseason No. 23 Bucknell (2-0).
The match was decided entirely in the first half, as both teams had numerous chances.
Although Harvard outshot the Bison 19-15, Bucknell sophomore goalie Matt Baran—making just the second start of his young career—stifled every Crimson opportunity, making nine saves without allowing a single goal.
“In the first quarter, we had just as many opportunities as them,” said freshman attackman Greg Cohen. “We didn’t shoot as well as we could have, which is something we worked on in practice, and their goalie was great. It was a combination of [those] two [factors].”
Baran established a career-high with 17 saves in the game.
At the other end, the Bison offense proved much more opportunistic.
After building a three-goal lead in the first period, Bucknell put the game out of reach before halftime with five additional unanswered goals in the second period.
The onslaught was led by junior attackman Chris Cara, who recorded six goals and a career-high nine points for the game.
“We didn’t show up to play [on Saturday],” said junior midfielder Zach Chandis.
Harvard pre-season honorable mention all-American and tri-captain goalie Jake McKenna was virtually helpless against the accurate Bison shooters, as he recorded just four saves in the half. For the game, McKenna posted a .464 save percentage.
Coming out of the half, it seemed that the game would feature more domination by Bucknell, as the Bison capitalized on three Crimson penalties to push the score to 11-0.
To Harvard’s credit, however, the team buckled down and managed to play Bucknell even the rest of the way.
“At halftime, coach stressed that we needed to play better [individually],” Greg Cohen said.
“We needed to stop looking at everyone around us. We took it on our own shoulders.”
The Crimson offense was led by junior attackman Mike McBride, who followed up his two-goal performance in the season-opener with another two goals.
Senior midfielder Jeff Gottschall recorded two assists, Greg Cohen tallied a goal—the first of his career—as well as an assist, while his brother, sophomore attackman Steve Cohen, added a goal to push his team-leading total to six.
“It was nice to break the ice [with my first goal], but it would have been a lot better if the game was close,” Greg Cohen said.
Three of the Harvard goals came on extra-man opportunities, which was one of the lone bright sports for the Crimson.
Unfortunately for Harvard, the team had only four opportunities to play with an extra man, while the team committed nine penalties of its own, leading to four Bison goals.
The Crimson will try to avoid a losing streak on Saturday as it travels to Amherst to take on preseason No. 7 UMass.
Harvard found itself on the short end of an 11-6 decision when it played the Minutemen last season.
“We just have to look past this game and prepare ourselves for our upcoming matches,” Chandis said.
“But it’s important to remember how we felt after playing Bucknell, because we never want to feel like that again.”
—Staff Writer Jonathan P. Hay can be reached at email@example.com.