It was a historic day for the Harvard men’s lacrosse team, but that wasn’t enough to earn the win. Looking to exact revenge against league rival No. 5 Cornell, which dropped the Crimson in last year’s Ivy League championship game, Harvard fell behind early.
Senior attackman Jeff Cohen scored three times to become Harvard’s all-time leader in career goals, but the scores were not enough to bring the Crimson back, as it fell, 14-10, in Ithaca on Saturday afternoon.
Harvard (5-5, 2-1 Ivy) managed just one goal in the first half, a score from junior midfielder Ryan Stevens midway through the first quarter.
Besides that, the half belonged to the Big Red (8-1, 4-0). After Stevens’ goal tied the game at one, Cornell reeled off five unanswered goals, including a dominant second quarter in which it outscored the Crimson 4-0.
Harvard, which trailed 6-1 at the half, improved its play in the third quarter as it tried to chip away at the deficit.
Two goals apiece from Cohen and Stevens in the third quarter pulled the Crimson within four goals, 9-5, as it entered the final frame.
Harvard cut Cornell’s lead to three on three occasions throughout the quarter, the penultimate time coming with under six minutes to play when co-captain Kevin Vaughan found the back of the net.
But Harvard was unable to get any closer than that. Big Red freshman attackman Matt Donovan scored to make it 12-8 before Crimson rookie attackman Keegan Michel answered to again pull the visitors within three goals, this time with just under three minutes to play.
Cornell senior midfielder Scott Austin scored seconds later to all but seal the game, and each team added another goal in the waning seconds as the Big Red walked off with the win.
“They simply outplayed us in the first half,” Harvard coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “We played much better in the second, but it wasn’t enough.”
The second quarter proved disastrous for the Crimson, which trailed only 2-1 after the first frame. Donovan put the Big Red up two goals on a score three-and-a-half minutes into the quarter and earned the assist on a man-up goal from senior midfielder Mitch McMichael a minute later.
Senior midfielder Roy Lang scored his second goal of the game to stretch the Cornell lead to four with just over six minutes to play in the half, and JJ Gilbane made it 6-1 less than a minute later.
“I was definitely disappointed with how we played in the second quarter,” Cohen said.
And things could have been worse for Harvard, Wojcik said, had it not been for the performance of freshman goalkeeper Jake Gambitsky. The rookie keeper made ten saves in the opening frame while the Big Red outshot the Crimson 11-6 in the first quarter and 14-2 in the second.
Although Harvard’s play improved dramatically in the third quarter, it was unable to string together the necessary goals for a second-half run. Cohen scored just over a minute into the third frame, but the Big Red responded with a goal two minutes later. Stevens scored his second goal on a man-up attack soon after, but the Crimson couldn’t keep the momentum.