At the rate Jeff Cohen was going on Saturday afternoon, even a real Wolverine would not have been of much help to the Michigan defense.
The senior attackman had a career day against the Wolverines, scoring seven goals and recording eight points to lead the Harvard men’s lacrosse team to an 11-6 win at Harvard Stadium. With the performance, Cohen moved within two goals of the Crimson’s all-time scoring record, held by David Bohn ’60.
“He’s been shooting the ball really well,” Harvard coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “He did a good job today getting open, getting in the right spots, and putting the ball in the right spots.”
After Michigan (1-9) got on the board first, Cohen responded with two quick scores to give the Crimson (5-4, 2-0 Ivy) the lead.
At the 5:38 mark of the opening frame, the senior cut left from behind the net and put the ball past Michigan goalie Emil Weiss. Thirty seconds later, Cohen added another goal off an assist from junior Jack Walker.
Harvard continued to fire on all cylinders as the quarter wore on. At the 3:36 mark, sophomore attackman Daniel Eipp came from behind the net and beat Weiss with a ground-ball shot. Two minutes later, tri-captain Terry White took a long cross-field pass from Cohen and fired a high shot over Weiss’ shoulder. Just 14 seconds after that, Eipp took a pass in front of the net from freshman Sean Mahon, beat his man right, and scored to put Harvard up, 5-1, after one.
“We gave up one [goal], but we answered the bell,” Wojcik said. “We came right back and were really sharp on offense.... I was happy with how we responded after they scored initially.”
Cohen earned a hat trick 1:18 into the second, spinning in front of the net and scoring on a ground-ball shot despite tripping. After Michigan’s Trevor Yealy added a man-up goal moments later to cut the Harvard lead to 6-2, Eipp hit Cohen in front of the goalie box, giving the senior a great look for his fourth goal of the day.
“We were moving the ball [well], and that generated shots,” Cohen said. “When we move the ball quickly, we can get good looks on the backside.”
Michigan made a run early in the third to get back in the game. Less than two minutes into the period, Doug Bryant beat his defender, senior midfielder Mark Scalise, to the right before beating freshman goaltender Jake Gambitsky. Two minutes later, Thomas Paras scored of a cross-field assist to cut the Harvard lead to 7-4.
But from there, Cohen went back to work. At the 9:28 mark, he took a pass from tri-captain Kevin Vaughan, juked out his defender, and beat Weiss to the left side of the net for a man-up goal. He scored again from five yards out off an Eipp pass 76 seconds later, and—following another Michigan penalty—scored his third goal in under two minutes off an assist from freshman Will Walker.
“[Cohen’s] just confident,” Wojcik said. “He’s shooting it well and he’s helping our offense and our team finish plays.”
David McCormack and Yealy responded with scores for Michigan to cut the Harvard lead to 10-6 heading into the fourth.
In the final period, Cohen—needing two goals to tie the Harvard and four to tie the NCAA single-game scoring record—was unable to get on the board.
But junior midfielder Ryan Stevens picked up the slack less than two minutes into the quarter, taking a cross-field pass from sophomore Carl Zimmerman and beating Weiss from the left. Paras added his second goal of the game midway through the period to make the score 11-7, where it would stay.
Led by Cohen’s 13 attempts, the Crimson outshot the Wolverines, 40-32. The Harvard defense forced 22 Michigan turnovers, while Gambitsky finished with 10 saves.
“Jake’s playing better each game,” Wojcik said. “He’s continuing to improve and our defense is doing a good job limiting the high-percentage shots he sees.”
The Crimson victory continued a rough opening season for Michigan, which is playing lacrosse at the varsity level for the first time.
“It was at times a little sloppy,” Wojcik said. “We did some good things offensively and defensively [and] had a couple mental errors here and there that allowed them to stay in the game, but Michigan did a really good job capitalizing... Credit to them for hanging in there. It was a tight game throughout.”
—Staff writer Scott A. Sherman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.