The Harvard men’s lacrosse team (4-5, 1-1 Ivy) hosted perennial powerhouse Duke (7-4, 1-1 ACC) under the lights at Harvard stadium on Saturday night. The Crimson came into the game unranked against the No. 12/10 Blue Devils but stayed with its opponents before eventually falling at the end, 12-11.
“I was very proud of our players’ effort today,” Harvard coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “We really came out and wanted that game.”
The contest went back and forth the entire time, with neither team able to secure even a two-goal lead until the Crimson did so with 7:38 remaining in the game, 10-8.
From there, it was all Duke, and Harvard’s lead quickly evaporated. Within three minutes, the Blue Devils scored three straight goals and reclaimed the lead, which it later extended to 12-10 with 2:53 remaining.
But the Crimson refused to go away.
Freshman attack Devin Dwyer caught a pass, wide-open about five yards out, and scored to drop the lead to one. After winning the ensuing faceoff, Harvard forced a Duke pushing foul, giving the Crimson the ball, man-up, with eight seconds remaining in the game.
Harvard swung the ball around the cage and Dwyer attempted a pass to a shooter at the top of the box, but the pass was intercepted by Blue Devil goalkeeper Kyle Turri and time expired with Duke on top, 12-11.
“Up until late we made Duke earn their goals,” Wojcik said. “I think we slipped up a little bit late and…just broke down a little bit defensively.”
The Crimson struggled on ground balls and face-offs in the game, losing both battles to the Blue Devils, 31-25 and 18-8, respectively. Typically, these two stats, combined with the level of Duke’s individual talent, would be enough to put the game out of reach. Instead, Harvard made up for its fewer possessions by limiting turnovers. The Crimson had only two turnovers in the entire second half.
“[Limiting turnovers] is something we’ve been working on every day in practice,” senior captain Jason Gonos said. “We can’t give their offense second chances…and we did a good job of that today.”
The Blue Devils struck first, just under four minutes into the game, but never managed to put Harvard away.
Freshman attack Ian Audrey answered with a goal of his own halfway through the opening period. It was the first goal of his collegiate career in the first start of his career.
After Duke scored to take the lead once again, junior attackman Peter Schwartz found himself guarded by a short-stick midfielder, a clear mismatch, and drove him towards the goal. He then roll-dodged and scored to tie the score at 2-2, where it would remain until a sudden flurry of alternating goals occurred in the beginning of the second.
The Blue Devils got the first goal, but junior attack Carl Zimmerman answered for Harvard, beating his man and nailing the back of the cage. Duke scored another, but it was only a minute until the Crimson countered to tie the game for the fourth time of the night, when senior attackman Jack Walker got the ball behind the cage, drove around the goal, and scored.
The score then remained tied for six minutes, until Harvard’s leading scorer, senior midfielder Alex White, beat his defender and ripped a left-handed shot right between Turri’s legs to give the Crimson its first lead of the game. But the advantage only lasted one minute, before the Blue Devils leveled the score going into halftime, 5-5.