Win and they’re in.
It’s as simple as that for the members of the No. 19 Harvard men’s lacrosse team, which closes out its regular season tomorrow afternoon with a must-win game at archrival No. 17 Yale, where a spot in the first-ever Ivy League tournament will be on the line.
Only four conference teams will qualify for the Ivy tournament, the winner of which will gain an automatic spot in the 16-team NCAA tournament.
For the Crimson (6-5, 2-3 Ivy) and the Bulldogs (9-2, 3-2), a defeat tomorrow—barring an at-large bid for either team—would dash all hopes of playing in the postseason.
“It’s the most important game we’ll play all year,” co-captain Jason Duboe said. “A lot of emotion will definitely come out on both sides.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a home loss to Bryant but can still clinch a share of the Ivy title with a win combined with a Princeton loss.
After keeping their tournament hopes alive by upsetting the No. 6 Tigers last weekend, Harvard will need an equally strong performance if it is to put together its first winning streak since mid-March and earn a spot in the Ancient Eight tournament.
Much of that burden will fall on Harry Krieger, the Crimson’s inconsistent freshman goaltender, who will need to repeat a strong performance against the Tigers in which he only gave up seven goals.
Krieger will be going up against a Bulldog offense that is fifth in the Ivy with 10.50 goals per game and fifth in shot percentage at .292.
The Yale attack is led by junior Brian Douglass and sophomore Matt Gibson. Douglass ranks third in the conference with 29 goals, while Gibson is third in points per game.
Senior Brendan Gibson has contributed 31 points as well.
For both teams, offensive production this season has been a study in contrasts.
The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents in the first quarter 36-22, but they have been outscored 38-28 in the fourth.
Harvard has been outscored 38-28 in the first period, but it has outscored its opponents in the fourth 33-29.
In the event that the Crimson fall behind early—a tendency of the team this season—it should have ample opportunity to make a late run.