After nearly two decades of unsuccessful attempts at knocking off Princeton, the Harvard lacrosse program finally had its way against the Tigers this season. For the first time since 1990, both Crimson squads defeated their Ivy League rival.
The women sparked the turnaround on Apr. 17, coming away with an 11-9 win, and the men followed suit a week later with an 11-8 victory.
Headed into its final home game of the season and coming off of a three-game losing streak, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team knew that pulling out a victory over perennial powerhouse Princeton, then ranked sixth nationally, could mark an important turning point for the team.
Sure enough, the Crimson’s 11-8 win over the Tigers on Senior Day at Harvard Stadium in front of a crowd of 2,827 fans, parents, and alumni marked a turning point not just for this year’s squad but for the entire program.
“It was important for the team and especially the seniors, because it was their last home game, and they had worked so hard for four years,” sophomore attack Jeff Cohen said. “They truly deserved that win.”
The Crimson jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first quarter on early tallies from sophomore and junior attacks Kevin Vaughan and Dean Gibbons. Vaughan would go on to score two more times in the game, making him Harvard’s leading scorer on the afternoon.
In the second quarter, senior midfielder Jason Duboe opened up a three-score run for the Crimson, netting a goal with 6:26 to go in the half.
Sophomore midfielder Andrew Pataki and freshman attack Peter Schwartz each added a score of their own before the Tigers fought back with two consecutive goals.
But with 16 seconds left in the half, sophomore midfielder Terry White tallied a goal on an assist from co-captain midfielder Travis Burr, putting Harvard up, 6-4, going into halftime.
In the final two quarters, the Crimson never relinquished its first-half lead. Gibbons and Cohen each added goals in the third frame, making the score 8-5. Then in the final quarter of play, Vaughan netted two consecutive scores that, coupled with a goal by sophomore defenseman Evan Roth with 35 seconds on the clock, shut out Princeton’s hope of a comeback.
This win marked Harvard’s first victory over the Tigers since 1990, and in a season splintered by close losses to Ivy League opponents, it also showed that the Crimson could finish big games on top.
“The win was very important for our program, because it establishes that we can beat the perennial Ivy powers like Princeton and Cornell,” Cohen said. “It was great to see all of the alumni at the game who knew we hadn’t beat Princeton in  years. The win was for those guys also.”
On the women’s side, Harvard claimed an early lead and held on for the 11-9 victory, earning its first win over Princeton since 1992.
Sophomore Melanie Baskind and freshman Jennifer VanderMeulen led the Crimson offense with three scores apiece, while senior goalkeeper Katherine Martino anchored the defense with seven saves.
Harvard ratcheted up its defensive pressure, forcing 13 Tiger turnovers while holding the visitors to just three first-half scores.