As the sun set on Tuesday evening over Soldiers Field Stadium, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team gained an early lead and held on tight, defeating Holy Cross, 16-12, for its first win of the season.
Offense won the day for the Crimson (1-1) as it made its biggest mark in the first quarter, with goals scored by senior midfielder Alex White, junior attackman Peter Shwartz, freshmen attackmen Devin Dwyer and Sean McDonagh, and midfielder Brendan Newman, all of which went unanswered until the last minute of the quarter. With 34 seconds left in the frame, Crusaders sophomore attackman Clay Haarmann scored his first of seven goals (1-2), just four fewer than his total goal count last season.
Shwartz collected two assists and four goals in the game for Harvard, leading his team in scoring en route to his first collegiate hat trick.
White, who had a hat trick against UMass on Saturday, repeated the feat on Tuesday with three goals and two assists.
“Offensively, we were spot-on in terms of shooting,” Crimson coach Chris Wojcik said. “We rode very hard. We won face-offs, played hard all over, and buried our shots.”
But things didn’t stay positive for Harvard in the second frame. The team’s 10 shots on goal in the first half fell to seven in the second, while Holy Cross jumped from two in the first to 17 in the second. The Crusaders outshot the Crimson for the rest of the game, finishing with 39 shots on goal to Harvard’s 32.
“We had trouble defensively slowing them down,” Wojcik said.
“We were erratic in our clearing game,” he added, noting the Crimson’s 11 successful clears in 17 attempts.
Harvard’s defense also struggled to keep Holy Cross out of the box, as Haarmann, sophomore midfielder Terry McKenna, and senior midfielder Myles Gillespie combined for six goals in the second quarter alone.
Haarman totalled three unanswered goals at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, putting the score at 6-3 with 13 minutes left in the half.
While it had fewer turnovers than Holy Cross in the first quarter, Harvard more than doubled the Crusaders in turnovers in the second, finishing the game with 24.
“It was definitely a pretty sloppy game,” captain Jason Gonos said. “Offensively, we put goals up, [but] defensively, we didn’t do a good enough job of stopping them.”
Gonos added a tally himself at 12:49 in the second quarter when he grabbed a loose ball from the midline and drove up, uncontested, for an unassisted goal, the first of his career.
“I just kind of shot and it luckily went in,” Gonos said.
Shwartz added an unassisted goal for the Crimson, which was quickly answered by a score from Gillespie with the assist coming from Haarmann, who then went on to score twice more in a four-second span. McKenna finished off the Holy Cross run with an unassisted goal at 0:29 in the half, making the score 9-7.