Rookie Finds Success in First Season
When you’re the only freshman who’s played in every game, when you’re tied for third in points (22) and tied for second in assists (7) for Harvard, and when you have the highest shot percentage (0.517) on the men’s lacrosse team (8-5, 2-3 Ivy), you know you’re doing something right. The only question: how did Daniel Eipp slip under the radar for so long?
As part of a standout group of freshmen, the majority of whom took a year off before Harvard to finesse their skills, Eipp might have been overlooked among the impressive accomplishments. But this year’s numbers don’t lie, and as the season continues, Eipp proves to be an indispensable part of the Crimson lineup.
“He’s a very smart lacrosse player with a very high lacrosse IQ, in addition to [having] exceptional quickness, speed, and change of directions,” Harvard coach Chris Wojcik said. “He’s as quick and his first step is as fast as anyone on the team. He’s very difficult to cover as an offensive player.”
It’s no wonder Eipp is talented, after growing up in Syracuse, N.Y., a hot bed of lacrosse. It was simply a natural outcome when he started playing at the age of five. Eipp played varsity football and basketball throughout high school, but as he grew older his passion for lacrosse strengthened and he shifted his focus solely on lacrosse for college. His specialization paid off—in his senior year Eipp captained his high school team and received All-American accolades.
Eipp’s first stop on his college tour was Harvard, and it was love at first sight. So when he received the offer of admission from the Crimson lacrosse coaches, he readily accepted.
“I just fell in love with it the first time I stepped on campus,” Eipp said. “I don’t know how anyone could turn down an offer from Harvard, being such a great academic school and what we’re doing so far on the lacrosse field.”
However, while Eipp felt excited to get into his new uniform, he also felt anxious. The Massachusetts native was one of the only ones among a strong class of freshmen who did not take a gap year.
“Before coming to Harvard, I always wished I took another year to post graduate, but it’s more your mindset, not how much lacrosse you’ve played in your high school career or your post-graduate career,” Eipp said. “It’s just the type of player that you are and what you can do at the college level.”
Eipp has proven this time and time again this season, especially in big games. In a March contest against Bellarmine, he picked up four goals and an assist, and caused a turnover closing the game with five points—a career high. In early April against Albany, Eipp scored three goals and had a ground ball.
Yet the undisputed highlight of Eipp’s season occurred at Soldiers Field against Georgetown on March 8. For Wojcik and the rest of the coaching staff, the third quarter specifically showcased Eipp’s full potential and skill. In the every previous game, Eipp had played midfield, but when the team called upon him he effortlessly transitioned into an attacker.
“Dan can play midfield, he can play attack,” Wojcik said. “He’s a player that’s very multidimensional. He does have a dynamic skill set where we can use him in a number of areas. ”
Tallying two goals and one assist in the second half of the game, Eipp was largely responsible for securing the first ever Crimson victory over Georgetown in a 16-15 barnburner.
“It was my first game really being able to play. Coach put me in a lot, and I was able to isolate my defender,” Eipp said. “After that game my confidence has gone up and I’ve been able to show what I can do on the field. ”
Games like Georgetown have earned Eipp Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors in both the weeks of March 14 and April 4.
But Eipp won’t stop here. Wojcik sees him not only continuing to exceed expectations and improve, but also taking a larger leadership role.
“He’s certainly exceeded our expectations because of how hard he’s worked and the level of his talent,” Wojcik said. “We’ve found a really important role for him on the team and he’s certainly excelled so far. In years to come we expect Dan to be a really big part of our offense and a really big part of our team.”
As the squad faces Yale this weekend—a match-up that will decide its fate for both the Ivy League tournament and the NCAA tournament—the Crimson will need Eipp to continue to step up and stand out.