Just under three minutes into sudden-death overtime, senior attackman Jeff Cohen fired a shot from the right side of the box into the back of the net, giving the Harvard men’s lacrosse team a 10-9 victory over Brown Saturday night at Harvard Stadium after it had spent nearly the entire game battling from behind. As his teammates rushed the field, Cohen got on one knee and celebrated his fifth and most dramatic goal of the day by mimicking a pose popularized by Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
Only moments earlier, the Crimson’s opponent had almost scored the game-winning goal. On the other side of the field, Bears senior attackman Parker Brown cut through traffic and fired a shot on goal from point-blank range, only to see the ball batted away by freshman goaltender Jake Gambitsky.
The game, which marked the beginning of the Ivy League season for both teams, was a critical contest for Harvard (3-3, 1-0 Ivy), which had dropped three straight contests prior to its matchup with Brown (2-3, 0-1 Ivy). But the team was unfazed.
“We like to take it game by game,” co-captain Kevin Vaughan said. “We try not to think of it as a chance to come back from a loss.”
After beginning the fourth quarter trailing, 7-6, the Crimson let up a quick goal to the Bears’ Sam Hurster. In a two-score hole, Harvard’s veterans stepped up. Vaughan delivered a pass in front of the Brown net to Cohen, who scored from close range. With nine minutes left to play, Cohen struck again, this time spinning in front of the crease and firing a shot into the back of the net as he fell.
Cohen scored his third straight goal just over a minute later, a shot which flew under the stick of Bears goaltender Will Round, to put the Crimson ahead, 9-8—its first lead of the game—with 7:43 to play in the fourth quarter.
But Brown would respond two minutes later, as freshman attackman Nick Piroli fired a shot past Gambitsky to tally his third goal and pull the Bears even at nine.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the remaining five-and-a-half minutes of regulation. Brown called a time-out with just over 30 seconds remaining to set up its final possession, but the Bears’ aspirations were thwarted as Vaughan stripped senior attackman Dan O’Brien and cleared the ball out of the zone to send the game into overtime.
Freshman attackman Keegan Michael won the opening faceoff in the extra period and charged through the Brown defense before firing a mid-range shot which was snagged by Round. The Bears’ only overtime possession was fruitless thanks to Gambitsky’s quick hands, and Vaughan set up Cohen for the game-winner on Harvard’s next time down the field.
The Crimson was forced to play much of the game from behind thanks to a slow start. Both offenses struggled in the first half, with Harvard turning the ball over eleven times and managing only three goals from Cohen and sophomore attackmen Carl Zimmerman and Daniel Eipp. Eipp’s goal came off a feed from Zimmerman with two minutes remaining in the first half, and it cut Brown’s lead to 4-3 at the break.
“We were down a lot of the game, but we kept chipping away,” Harvard coach Chris Wocjik said. “We knew we were going to get our chances if we stayed confident and poised.”
Piroli was the first to score in the third quarter, netting a goal three minutes in. Eipp and Zimmerman connected again, scoring a man-up goal a minute later to answer. Six minutes into the quarter, a shot from co-captain Terry White deflected off the post, but Zimmerman was in front of the net to scoop up the rebound and score the game-tying goal.
Johnny DePeters put the Bears ahead again with an unassisted goal before White answered with his first goal of the season with three minutes to play in the quarter. DePeters completed his hat trick with just 13 seconds to play in the quarter, sending the Crimson into the final frame trailing, 7-6, and setting the stage for its come from behind win.
Gambitsky allowed nine goals on 15 shots in his second career start but came up huge when the stakes were highest.
“He made a huge save to give us the ball back and put us in position to win,” Wocjik said. “That’s a big play coming from a freshman.”
Cohen’s prolific scoring—his five goals Saturday give him 23 on the season—puts him among the top three scorers in the nation with just under four goals per game.
—Staff writer James M. Acer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.