Over Almost as Soon as It Began

KANDY KANE
Lowell K. Chow

Sean Kane, shown in earlier action, scored one of Harvard's four goals in a 13-4 loss to Princeton on Saturday

If you showed up late for this one, you missed the game.

The Harvard men’s lacrosse team was scored on early and often by No. 6 Princeton on Saturday, in a game that saw the Tigers connect on their first four shots and build leads of 7-0 and 12-1 before a late Crimson run made the final score 13-4.

The loss ends the Ivy League title hopes of Harvard (5-5, 1-3 Ivy), while Princeton (7-2, 3-0) finds itself as the lone undefeated team in the league after Cornell defeated Dartmouth on Saturday in overtime, 12-11.

Playing in front of over 2,000 fans at Jordan field, the Tigers—riding a 24-game Ivy League road winning streak as well as a 13-game winning streak against Harvard—took control of the game immediately, scoring four goals in the first seven minutes.

“[The first goal] is what we were looking for,” said junior attackman Mike McBride. “Once they scored the first couple of goals, we dug ourselves a hole. [It’s especially important] against a very conservative team like Princeton. Their whole game is controlling possession of the ball.”

Princeton tacked on another goal and headed into the intermission with a 5-0 lead. The Crimson didn’t register a single shot on net in the quarter, while at the other end, tri-captain goalie Jake McKenna could only stop one Tiger shot.

“In the first quarter, we didn’t come out strong,” said junior midfielder Zach Chandis. “We made mental errors and didn’t take very good shots.”

The second quarter featured more of the same, as Princeton pushed the margin to seven on the strength of two goals in the first four minutes.

Harvard finally struck back when sophomore attackman Sean Kane ran his defender off a pick by freshman midfielder Brian Mahler and fired a low shot into the net, but two late Tiger goals ended any hope of a Crimson comeback, as the teams headed into the half with the score 9-1.

Princeton capitalized on Harvard turnovers in the midfield and in the Crimson defensive end, while Harvard’s attackmen were unable to prevent the Tigers from clearing the ball.

“We play more of a press ride, they do more of a drop ride,” McBride noted. “They did a great job clearing the ball.”

Coming out of the half, the Crimson decided against any major strategic changes against the perennial Ivy League powerhouse.

“We tried not to get out of our game,” said McBride. “Once you change your game like that, that’s the way to really mess yourself up.”

The Tigers pushed the advantage to 12-1 before Harvard was able to generate any offense, as sophomore midfielder Jake Samuelson tallied a goal with just eight seconds left in the third quarter.

Princeton began resting some of its players—such as starting goalie David Law—in the fourth quarter and the Crimson capitalized, recording a 16-6 advantage in shots over the final 15 minutes. Mahler scored Harvard’s third goal with a sidearm shot, while Chandis provided one of the few highlights of the day for the Crimson by forcing a turnover in the Tiger end and scoring a breakaway goal to create the final margin.

Princeton was led offensively by attackman Jason Doneger (4 goals), 2003 First Team All-American attackman Ryan Boyle (1 goal, 3 assists) and attackman Peter Trombino (2 goals, 2 assists). With four points on the day, Trombino took over the lead in the Ivy League rookie point race from Harvard attackman Greg Cohen.

The Tigers were able to control possession of the ball during much of the game due to their 12-8 advantage in faceoffs and 24-18 advantage in groundballs, which McBride pointed to as the “X-factor” in the game.

The Crimson will travel to Yale on Saturday, where it will attempt to shrug off the demoralizing effects of this weekend’s loss and get its season back on track.

“Hopefully we can improve a lot on our performance,” Chandis said. “We need to get our [stuff] together.”

“When you play Yale, it’s not like any other game,” McBride added. “It’s a battle every year. We’re going to come out fired up for that game. Yale is the one team that we want to beat every year.”

—Staff writer Jonathan P. Hay can be reached at hay@fas.harvard.edu.

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