The Harvard men’s lacrosse team continued its perfect start to Ivy League play and defeated Dartmouth, 16-7, on Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium.
After the Big Green (1-4, 0-1 Ivy) dug the Crimson an early 2-0 hole in the first quarter, Harvard (5-3, 2-0) embarked on a 7-1 run over the next 15 minutes.
“I thought we responded really well at the end of the first quarter,” Crimson coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “We came out hot, put in two quick goals, and wound up outscoring them, 7-1, in the second quarter.”
In a game filled with scoring streaks, the Crimson’s defense held strong on the man down to blank the Dartmouth attack on all five of the visitor’s power play opportunities. On the other end, Harvard went 4-of-6 on the extra man opportunities to pull away from the team that finished last in the Ivy League last season.
Harvard’s offense showed its strength and depth with 10 different players scoring for the Crimson. Sophomore attackman Will Walker paced the home team with a career-high five goals on six shots to reach 18 scores on the season. Classmate Sean Mahon chipped in two.
The physical play of senior midfielder Brian O’Toole helped spark the Crimson offense in the second quarter. After a goal from Walker 25 seconds into the period cut the Big Green’s lead in half, O’Toole landed a hit on Dartmouth junior defenseman Robert Osgood to gain possession of the ball, and found sophomore attackman Devin Dwyer on a cross-field pass to tie the game.
Moments later, on the next Harvard attack, O’Toole shook off a hit before launching a bullet from 15 yards out to give the Crimson the lead.
The second stanza also saw Harvard take advantage of a prolonged man-up situation. A pair of one-minute penalties on Dartmouth sophomore midfielder Cam Lee for unsportsmanlike conduct and an illegal body check would facilitate two more Crimson goals.
“Our transition midfield played their hearts out,” Wojcik said. “Our long stick [midfielders] Breit and Brian Fischer [as well as] our short sticks, such as [senior] Pat Fiorvanti and O’Toole, don’t get the credit [on the stat sheet] that they deserve…. Those guys are really unsung heroes for our team.”
Harvard started slow in the second half, as Dartmouth closed the gap to 7-4 before the Crimson added three goals near the end of the contest to extend its lead to six.
While the Big Green netted another two goals in the span of 40 seconds in the final stanza, a 6-1 run by Harvard over the last 13 minutes of play clinched the victory in a game that saw the Crimson struggle to obtain consistency.
“Late in the [half] we slowed our play,” Walker said. “We [have to] finish every quarter and really start playing a complete game.”
While the Harvard offense clicked on Saturday, the team’s defense also stepped up despite the absence of co-captain and defenseman Joe Petrucci, who was out for the second straight game with a concussion. Harvard held Dartmouth to just seven goals despite the Big Green outshooting the Crimson, 36-35. Junior goalkeeper Jake Gambitsky had 10 saves for the home team.
While the scoreboard indicated an easy victory for Harvard, the stat sheet told a different story.
The Crimson struggled on the ground game, losing the ground ball battle, 30-28, against a physical Big Green squad. Dartmouth also finished the match with a 14-12 advantage in face-offs.
Harvard also struggled with turnovers throughout the match, giving the ball up a season-high 19 times.
“We’re definitely not happy only eight games in[to the season],” co-captain midfielder Peter Schwartz said. “Every game you try to reach that point where you can play a complete 60 minutes…. We can [also] improve on decision making. In transition, when they were [putting pressure on us], we were a little flat footed and they took advantage of it.”
Though the win might not have been the prettiest of triumphs for the Crimson, Wojick was pleased with the final result.
“Overall, what we saw was a good conditioning level,” Wojick said. “Athleticism [was seen] across the board, and we executed and hit our shots. To win by nine goals in the Ivy League is very difficult, so ultimately I’m happy with the score [even if not] completely happy with how we got there.”