Cold weather and rain didn’t stop a strong turnout on Saturday as Harvard and No. 16 Yale lacrosse fans alike crowded the bleachers at Jordan Field, where the Crimson (5-5, 2-3 Ivy) trampled the Bulldogs (7-4, 3-3) by a score of 11-4.
The victory was especially significant to the graduating seniors, as they celebrated their senior night.
“It was a lot of fun to play on senior night,” said tri-captain defenseman Brian Wannop. “Whenever you have a senior night, the guys want to play hard. All the alumni were there, so that made it even more exciting. There’s a certain level of energy at senior night because people want to play well.”
While Harvard entered the 2004-2005 season marked as one of the top programs in the nation, the team has struggled through a slump during April. The win against Yale marked the end to the Crimson’s season-high four-game losing streak.
“The past three weeks we’ve been down, not playing like we know we can play,” said junior midfielder Sean Kane. “Today was a confidence boost.”
With last year’s 11-10 victory against the Bulldogs—which came down to a Crimson goal in the last 3 seconds of the game—Yale was hungry for redemption this year, boosting the already existing rivalry.
But the Bulldogs walked away defeated yet again as Harvard played a near-unstoppable game on the field.
The Crimson kicked off the first period with early goals by Kane—who was the leading scorer in the game with four tallies—and tri-captain attackman Mike McBride. Yale was able to tie Harvard’s two goals, ending the first period 2-2.
The Crimson pulled away after the first period as McBride scored the first goal of the second period followed by goals from junior midfielder Jake Samuelson and sophomore midfielder Evan Calvert. The Harvard defense was able to keep Yale scoreless in the period and the Crimson headed into the half holding a 5-2 lead.
While the back half of the second period remained score-free on both parts, it certainly was not the trend in the upcoming third period.
Only four minutes into the period, Kane scored his second goal of the game. But Kane’s contributions did not end there. Less than six minutes later, he completed the hat trick, giving Harvard an 8-2 lead at the end of the third period.
The fourth and final period proved to be just as eventful as the Crimson did not let up on the Bulldogs, scoring three more goals.
Freshman attackman Brooks Scholl scored one goal in the first 30 seconds of the period followed by another quick goal by junior attackman Steve Cohen.
Kane’s success from previous periods continued to roll over as he scored his fourth goal—and the game’s final tally—in the 11-4 win.
“We played much smarter as a team,” Wannop said. “We possessed the ball smarter in offense and we had a really good system in place in terms of defense.”
Yale failed to maintain its 11-goal average, only managing to score four on the contest, thanks to the tight Crimson defense and freshman Evan O’Donnell in the goal, who made 13 saves throughout the game.
Wannop attributes the great success of Saturday’s game to a shift in attitude on the team. While earlier, the team struggled to get energetic about the upcoming games, the Harvard-Yale atmosphere provided both energy and intensity to increase the spirit for the game.
“The Harvard-Yale rivalry gets people excited,” Wannop said.
Kane echoed the thoughts of his teammate.
“It’s so easy to get up for Harvard-Yale,” Kane said. “It’s such an exciting atmosphere, and it’s a tradition. Realizing that you’re part of something bigger than just lacrosse was great. Everybody just stepped it up and really said that [they were] going to play great today.”
Defeating the Bulldogs was a satisfying victory, but the Crimson will face tough competitors in its upcoming three games.
Harvard will face No. 9 University of Massachusetts this Tuesday at Jordan Field followed by No. 17 Hofstra and No. 11 Dartmouth on the road in the next two weeks.
Kane is confident that although the Crimson will face challenging teams, its success from Saturday’s game will carry over and help the team to continue to win.
“These next three games are huge tests for us, but today we proved we can play like a great team,” Kane said. “We have to take that energy and put it into everything that we do. I think the confidence will carry over to the next games.”