Harvard Suffers Playoff Setback with Loss to Penn
The Harvard men’s lacrosse team’s chances to earn its first postseason berth since 2006 took a serious blow Saturday when Ivy League bottom-dweller Penn (5-7, 1-4 Ivy) upset the No. 15 Crimson (5-5, 1-3), 12-7, at Franklin Field.
“I thought we made a lot of the same mistakes [we usually do],” Harvard coach John Tillman said. “We tried to make some adjustments, we tried to change some things defensively, and it ultimately came down to turnovers. When you give a team like Penn that many extra opportunities, they will make you pay.”
Senior midfielder Jason Duboe scored a season-high three goals in the first half, but the Crimson could not pull away in the opening quarters.
“I just took what they gave me,” Duboe said. “I guess I’ve been struggling all year with shooting, and it was just nice to have a couple fall.”
Harvard got on the scoreboard first for the first time since Mar. 20 against Brown when Duboe tallied his seventh goal of the season just over four minutes into the game.
Penn’s Al Kohart and Duboe would have a scoring duel for the rest of the quarter. Kohort tied the game at 7:45 only to have Duboe give the lead right back to the Crimson one minute later with his second unassisted goal of the afternoon. After freshman defenseman Jeff Molinari gave the Quakers a man advantage with 1:09 left in the quarter, Kohort responded to Duboe with his second goal of the game to tie the score at two at the end of the first.
Penn’s John Conneely gave the Quakers their first lead of the game at the 13:24 mark of the second quarter, but Harvard and Penn would again trade goals en route to a 4-4 halftime score.
The Quakers wouldn’t allow any trading in the third quarter, as Penn outscored the Crimson, 5-0, in the frame to deflate Harvard and take a 9-4 lead into the final 15 minutes. The Quakers outshot the Crimson, 42-27, overall, but Harvard actually had its most shots—10—in the third frame.
“We didn’t execute, and as a whole, we were really sloppy on offense,” Duboe said. “We deviated from the game plan...we were fully prepared, we just didn’t execute.”
Junior Dean Gibbons and freshman Peter Schwartz scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter to close the deficit to 9-6 with 10:42 left in the game, but the Quakers’ Tim Schwalje put an end to the Crimson’s brief dash of momentum with his third goal of the season to extend the lead to 10-6. Gibbons’s second goal with 6:41 to play closed the gap to 10-7 and put the game within reach for Harvard, but Penn would shut out the Crimson for the remainder of the game and add two insurance goals in the final three minutes to ice the 12-7 victory.
Harvard has been outshot in each game during its current three-game losing streak. Freshman goalkeeper Harry Krieger recorded 10 saves for his third straight double-digit save performance, but a combination of 42 Penn shots and only seven goals of support prevented Krieger from earning his fourth win of the season.
With only two regular-season games left before the Ivy League tournament, the Crimson most likely needs to run the table if it hopes to make the inaugural tournament.
This is the first year in which the Ivy League is using a postseason conference tournament to determine the automatic qualifiers to the NCAA tournament. The top four teams in the regular season standings will make the postseason bracket.
Currently, Harvard stands tied for fifth in the standings with Dartmouth (1-3 Ivy). If Brown (2-2) wins at least one of its two remaining conference games against Cornell (3-1) or Dartmouth, Harvard must win its final two games against Princeton (4-0) and at Yale (3-2) to have a chance at clinching a spot in the Ivy League tournament.
“We’re going to look at every game as an important game from here on out,” Tillman said. “Obviously we’re a young team, and we’ve gotten younger as the year’s gone on in some ways, but our goal is that we are growing and learning from these mistakes.”
—Staff writer Colin Whelehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.