In each of the past two years, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team has knocked off Princeton, one of the traditional powerhouses in its sport. In 2010, behind freshman goalie Harry Krieger’s 13 saves, the Crimson stunned the then-No. 6 Tigers, 11-8, on its Senior Day for Harvard’s first win over Princeton in 20 years. Last season, behind 15 more saves from Krieger, Harvard knocked off the Tigers, 9-8, for the second straight time.
But in 2012, Krieger lost his starting job early on to freshman Jake Gambitsky, who has been up-and-down all year long. So facing the No. 13/14 Tigers once again in its final home game of the season, Harvard coach Chris Wojcik ’96 turned back to Krieger for his first start in eight games, hoping for another big upset.
But despite the goalie switch, such magic was nowhere to be found on Saturday, as Princeton dominated Krieger and the Crimson en route to a 12-5 victory at Harvard Stadium.
“It was definitely not the way we wanted our Senior Day to go,” senior attackman Jeff Cohen said. “It was a bit of a letdown.”
So it was from early on, as the Tigers came out roaring from the start. Four minutes into the game, Tom Schreiber snagged a deflection in front of the net, and finding himself open, proceeded to blow a shot past Krieger. Four minutes later, Schreiber scored again—splitting two defenders and beating the goalie high—and moments after that, Kip Orban also escaped a pair of defenders and fired over Krieger’s left shoulder to put Princeton up, 3-0.
Harvard finally answered with four minutes left in the period, when freshman attackman Will Walker took a pass from sophomore Daniel Eipp and scored from close range. But Princeton quickly responded, as Orban beat Krieger from the right side, and a minute later, Mike McDonald took a pass in front of the net, spun left and scored. At the other end of the field, Tigers goalie Tyler Fiorito made a point-blank save on a solid look from senior Kevin Vaughan at the first-period buzzer.
“Fiorito is an All-American, and he played like it,” Cohen said.
Eipp cut the deficit to 5-2 four minutes into the second, juking Princeton’s Brendan DeTommaso to the left and beating Fiorito. But Harvard continued to turn the ball over as the period wore on while the Tigers added two more tallies. With 7:21 to go, Forest Sonnenfeldt beat Krieger from 15 yards out, and minutes later, Derick Raabe took a pass from Chad Wiedmaier in transition and fired in another goal on the run to make it 7-2 going into the break.
“They’re a good team, but it’s not really an excuse,” Cohen said. “They came to play harder than us [Saturday].”
The scoring continued for the Tigers just over a minute into the second half, when Schreiber took an underhand shovel pass at the left side of the net and fired a shot past Krieger to complete a hat trick. Two minutes later, Vaughan responded with a goal from the left side, and Cohen later made it 8-4 with his 45th score of the season. But the Crimson continued to miss chances to get closer than that, as Eipp hit the post with a ground-ball shot and later could not convert on an open look off a long outlet pass from his goalie.
Twenty-two seconds into the fourth, Krieger came out thirty yards from the pipes and took a big hit that knocked him out of the game and give Princeton an open net, as Schreiber’s fourth score made it 9-4. At the 8:35 mark of the quarter, Schreiber added an assist when he sprinted behind the goal from right to left and found Jeff Froccaro, who attacked from in front and beat Gambitsky.
Junior Jack Walker responded with a score for Harvard moments later off a pass from Vaughan to make it 10-5, but that was all the offense the Crimson was able to muster for the rest of the afternoon. Princeton’s Tucker Shanley and Chris White added late unassisted scores to put the game away.
Harvard outshot the Tigers, 40-35, and had a 22-18 advantage in ground balls, but Fiorito made 15 saves to make up for that fact.
“They outplayed us,” Vaughan said. “They were the better team [Saturday]. They did a lot of things right; they took advantage of our mistakes, and we didn’t do that.”
Indeed, it was not the performance Cohen, Vaughan, and their classmates had hoped for in the final home game of their careers.
“Harvard will always have a special place in my heart,” Cohen said. “I truly think Harvard Stadium is the best venue in college lacrosse. It was a beautiful day [Saturday], so it was a perfect scene...but the game didn’t go the way we wanted.”
—Staff writer Scott A. Sherman can be reached at email@example.com.