If there is anything that one can take away from the Crimson men’s lacrosse victory against Georgetown on Saturday afternoon, it is that stats don’t tell the whole story. Harvard (3-2, 0-0 Ivy) traveled to the nation’s capital to face off against the Hoyas (2-3, 0-0 Big East) on Georgetown’s home turf.
The Crimson returned to Cambridge with the first visiting team victory in the series—now tied up with three wins apiece—between the two competitors. Georgetown, which has averaged 8.5 goals per game this season while allowing just 7.1 points against, was defeated by Harvard, 15-7.
“We are very pleased with the game,” co-captain Joe Petrucci said. “We were disappointed with the way we started against Quinnipiac, and today we came out fired up today from the first blow of the whistle. A big part of our success was our determination. Georgetown just started the game a bit flatter than we did today, and we really capitalized.”
Junior goalie Jake Gambitsky was a critical piece to the puzzle in the opening few minutes of play. Thanks to a quick stick, Gambitsky stonewalled the Hoyas’ attacking efforts seven times in the first period of play alone.
“Gambitsky played outstandingly,” Harvard coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “He made a number of big saves in the first half that really helped slowdown Georgetown’s ball movement…. He was an inspiration to our defense, and his efforts to clear the ball up the field gave our offense the opportunity to get looks on cage.”
The Crimson’s defense, led by Gambitsky in the crease, shut down leading scorer, freshman Peter Conley, who has tallied 13 points so far this season for Georgetown. Conley could only pass for one assist on the night due to the Crimson’s defensive effort.
“Our defensive personnel had a really strong game,” Wojcik said. “Georgetown is a very good team, and they took a number of shots, but I thought we did a really good job locking down their top point producers and playing them really well. It was a very good combination of a good game plan, good execution, and a great goaltending performance.”
Despite the Hoyas scrambling for possession of 17 of the 26 face-off wins, Gambitsky ended the day with a career-high 18 saves, the most seen by a Harvard goalie since March 2011. With the ball in his pocket, he successfully cleared to his teammates 23 times.
“When you have the goalie that can make some of the saves that he made today it takes a lot of pressure off of the defense,” Petrucci said. “And it undoubtedly helped our offence when they have the amount of possessions that they had today, and they sink in their shots, it’s hard to not come away with a win.”
While the Crimson offense only produced 36 shots on the day compared to 57 from Hoyas’ sticks, the movement of the ball in the attacking end and the accuracy of shots allowed the team to find the back of the net 15 times, giving Harvard the largest goal deficit so far this season.
“We came out firing on all cylinders,” Petrucci said. “We had a really big lead at halftime. A lot of this was due to our offence was really moving the ball well today, playing team offence, and distributing. They were just genuinely moving the ball well and taking good shots.”
Co-captain Peter Shwartz matched his career-high with five points, with three goals and two assists, while sophomore attackmen Will Walker and Ian Ardrey each scored a hat trick.
Another member of the class of 2016, Devin Dwyer, passed for five assists in his debut game of the season after recuperating from a crippling injury that benched him for the first four games of the season. The attacking efforts by the Crimson helped to clinch the Harvard’s first-ever victory at Georgetown.
The past three meetings were close between the two competitors, with either the Crimson or Hoyas coming out on top by one or two goals.
“I think all of the upperclassmen on the team remember two years ago when we had a really close, tough, frustrating game [in DC],” Petrucci said. “So it was really great to come down here and beat them on their home turf freehandedly. It is the first time I’ve done that in my career, and it definitely feels good.”
—Staff writer Caroline L. Ferguson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.