The stage was set Tuesday night at the Soldiers Field Lacrosse Stadium for a game of international merit, as the Harvard men’s lacrosse team took on Team England for a fall exhibition game.
England entered the contest ranked fifth in the world, according to the Federation of International Lacrosse, but the Crimson did not let that intimidate its play. Harvard was able to put the English national team away handily, picking up a 19-6 victory.
The Crimson was in control from the start of the game, as it surged ahead to a 6-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, with England’s two goals coming off of Harvard’s missed coverage. By halftime, England trailed by double digits, as the Crimson took a 14-3 lead just seconds before the break on a goal by senior attacker Carl Zimmerman, which he scored while falling to the ground.
“We jumped out really early, and got a big lead on them,” senior co-captain Joe Petrucci said. “We could have gotten less competitive at that point and pulled off a little bit, but we kept scoring goals and made sure we played four complete quarters.”
The Crimson dominated possession throughout the game, which kept England from running an effective offense.
“We did really well at face-offs today…and had a ton of offensive possessions,” Petrucci said. “Team England really didn’t have the ball for very long, which took a lot of pressure off of our defense.”
After a weekend in which Harvard split a pair of fall ball games against Army and St. John’s, the team was able to focus on bouncing back this week against a competitive English team.
“Those scrimmages saw some good [things], but there were a lot of things that we needed to improve on,” freshman midfielder Austin Williams said. “I think we saw that improvement today. We need to remember who we are, and what our strengths are as we continue with the rest of our season and into the spring.”
Transitioning from playing collegiate opponents to an international challenge against Team England brought a different level of competition to the Crimson that was welcome after last week’s exhibition game.
“Their style of play is a little different in the way they dodge, and the way they like to move the ball around,” Williams said. “It’s still lacrosse, but it’s the English style, I guess. It’s a great feeling to be able to win against an international team.”
Above all, competing with the best in the world has given Harvard a step in the right direction toward the ultimate goal of a successful spring season.
“We are going to continue to work hard and improve both individually and collectively as a team all winter, and make sure we keep the progress this fall going,” Petrucci said. “England is a very gritty and hard-nosed team, but at the end of the day we outmatched them in skill and athleticism.”