After a four-goal spurt early in the second half, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team (4-3, 2-0) overpowered Dartmouth with a convincing 15-10 victory at Harvard Stadium Saturday, preserving its undefeated record in Ivy League play.
Led by five goals from senior attackman Jeff Cohen and four goals apiece from sophomore attackman Daniel Eipp and co-captain Kevin Vaughan, the Crimson’s (4-3, 2-0 Ivy) 15 goals marked a season high. The win is Harvard’s second in a row following a two-game losing streak that briefly dropped the team’s record below .500 and puts the Crimson in a tie for first place in the conference with Cornell and Princeton.
“It’s always good to get a win in the Ivy League,” Vaughan said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been 2-0 in the Ivy League before. Dartmouth’s a solid team, and it was good to come out and take it to them.”
The Big Green’s (2-4, 0-1) efforts kept it within striking distance for much of the game. After entering halftime trailing 7-4, Dartmouth sophomore Brendan Rotanz scored early in the third quarter to bring Dartmouth to within two goals.
But a minute later, the Crimson countered with the first of four straight goals, all in a 45-second span. Cohen netted the first two, Eipp continued the run with a close-range score, and Vaughan sliced through the defense and fired a contested shot to extend the lead to 11-5 with just under nine minutes to play in the third quarter.
“All around the field, guys were making plays,” Vaughan said. “It was nice to get a lead and keep that lead the entire game.”
Dartmouth responded with the final goal of the quarter, but the 11-6 deficit proved insurmountable for the Big Green. The fourth quarter saw four goals from both teams, with Harvard comfortably ahead the whole way.
“Overall, I was very happy with our effort throughout the game,” Crimson coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “We came out right from the start playing well. I thought we moved the ball really well; we were patient and disciplined and very unselfish on offense, which allowed us to get great shots.”
Harvard built its lead primarily through its domination of the possession battle. The Crimson picked up 32 ground balls, 10 more than Dartmouth, and enjoyed a 19-10 advantage on faceoffs, allowing it to string together multiple possessions and goals in a row. Freshman attackman Keegan Michel won 18 of his 24 faceoffs, including five straight during Harvard’s third-quarter run.
“[Michel] did an awesome job,” Vaughan said. “He was winning faceoffs in bunches and allowing us to have fast breaks and a ton of possession.”
Wojcik also pointed to Michel’s performance on faceoffs as crucial to the Crimson’s victory. In the pivotal third quarter, Michel allowed Dartmouth only one faceoff victory out of seven attempts.
“Our MVP for the game was Keegan Michel,” Wojcik said. “He was outstanding throughout the day.”
Thanks in part to Michel’s strong faceoff play, Harvard had four unanswered goals in the first quarter after Dartmouth’s Colin Delaney scored to break the 0-0 tie. Again, Cohen, Eipp, and Vaughan led the early attack, with Cohen netting two of the four goals.
Cohen, tied with Colgate’s Peter Baum as the nation’s leading goal scorer (4.00 goals per game), has now tallied five goals in three consecutive contests.
“Jeff Cohen continues to shoot the ball as well as anyone in the country,” Vaughan said. “It’s easy to score goals when you have those guys playing well.”
Though the Crimson allowed 10 goals, Wojcik was pleased with its defensive effort, given the up-tempo nature of the game. Despite committing five penalties, Harvard held Dartmouth scoreless on all five man-up opportunities while scoring five man-up goals of its own.
“I was really happy with our man-down defense,” Wojcik said. “We were a little undisciplined in terms of penalties, but our defense allowed us to keep that two- or three-goal lead.”
The Crimson was also the more efficient team on offense.
Both teams totaled 36 shots, but Harvard put 27 of its shots on net, as compared to only 17 for the Big Green. And with Crimson freshman goalkeeper Jake Gambitsky tallying seven saves, the Harvard attack ultimately overwhelmed Dartmouth.
“Our defense is playing solid,” Vaughan said. “We’ve got a lot of good players out there, a lot of good athletes. Our goalie, Jake Gambitsky, came up with some awesome saves. We’ve got a lot of leadership down on the defensive end, and we made the stops we needed to make.”