It might have been the first time that the No. 17 Harvard men’s lacrosse team (10-5, 3-3) appeared in the Ivy League tournament, but it looked like veteran squad, cruising past No. 15 Penn (8-6,4-2) Friday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field and earning a spot in the finals of the Ancient Eight tournament.
“I’m really happy [with Friday’s performance],” said Crimson coach Chris Wojcik ’96. “I thought we played really well overall, in all phases of the game.”
Despite coming up short in a heartbreaking double-overtime loss to the Quakers on April 16, Harvard showed no signs of fear.
“That first game was a really close game,” Wojcik said. “In any overtime game, a play here or there [can make] the game go either way. I think we were excited to get another opportunity to play a team we had lost to in overtime.”
The Crimson jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first quarter, fueled by two assists from co-captain attack Dean Gibbons. Penn then responded to pull within one. Sophomore midfielder Jack Doyle scored unassisted with 2:48 remaining in the first quarter to go up, 3-1. Freshman attack Daniel Eipp assisted junior attack Jeff Cohen with 17 seconds left in the opening frame widen the margin, 4-1.
The Crimson controlled the tempo of the game and dominated possession, owning a 32-24 groundball advantage and a 13-11 faceoff advantage.
“I thought we came out and really dominated the game from the start,” Wojcik said. “We were able to build a big lead, and I thought we did a really good job of not only extending that lead but also managing the game and controlling the pace of the play.”
The second quarter saw only more of the same from Harvard, scoring three unanswered goals. Taking advantage of a man-up situation, Gibbons found the back of the net off an assist from junior co-captain Kevin Vaughan, setting the score at 5-1. Less than a minute later Harvard would strike again, with Doyle assisting a Cohen goal with 12:51 left in the second quarter. Another man-up goal kept the Crimson run going and made the score 7-1.
The Quakers finally found the back of the net on a man-up situation with 8:49 remaining in the 2nd quarter. Eipp would respond for Harvard off an unassisted goal, extending the lead back to six. Penn scored with six seconds left in the frame to set the score at 8-3 heading into halftime.
“I think we came out and played hard,” Cohen said. “I think we were the team that wanted it more, and it showed. It was a huge win for us.”
Gibbons headlined the offensive barrage from the Crimson that saw eight different players score. Gibbons earned five points off three goals and two assists, while Cohen also matched his co-captain’s scoring total with three goals.
Sophomore goalie Harry Krieger continued his string of strong performances, anchoring the defense throughout the game and recording a final tally of nine saves. Junior defenseman Paul Pate also made a strong showing, causing two turnovers and scooping up three ground balls.
“I think our defense played great,” Cohen said. “Harry had a lot of big saves. Dean had five points, and [senior] Matt Hull was kind of flying around all over the field. All season those guys have been our leaders, and they’ve stepped up for us whenever we’ve needed them.”
Harvard struck first in the 3rd quarter, scoring off an assisted goal from junior midfielder Terry White. Penn was not out of the game yet and scored two straight goals in a two-minute span, setting the score at 9-5 with 8:31 left in the third. Taking advantage of a man-up situation, sophomore attack Peter Schwartz found the back of the net off an assist from sophomore midfielder Ryan Stevens going into the final frame of the game.
The Quakers would make their biggest stand of the game in the final quarter, but it still wouldn’t be enough to overcome the five-goal deficit.
The Crimson struck first, getting the score off an unassisted goal from Vaughan. Another unassisted goal from Gibbons put Harvard up, 12-5, with 10:53 left on the clock. The Crimson would not score again, as an improved Penn defense left the offense unable to find the back of the net. The Quakers rattled off three unanswered goals to close the quarter, but it was not enough to overcome the seven-goal deficit.
“We were able to carry the play throughout,” Wojcik said. “We played with a lot of energy and passion. I was really happy with our performance.”
—Staff writer David E. Lopez-Lengowski can be reached at email@example.com.