With an 11-10 victory over Ivy League rival Yale on Saturday, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team finished its regular season with possession of the Ancient Eight title.
The No. 16 Crimson (9-5, 5-1 Ivy) entered the fourth quarter tied with the 13th-ranked Bulldogs (9-4, 3-3), 9-9, but two quick goals gave Harvard the lead it needed to hold on to win the game.
Strong play by junior goaltender Jake Gambitsky, who recorded five saves and gave up only one goal in the fourth quarter, was essential for the Crimson in these waning moments.
“Jake was the biggest difference in the fourth quarter,” Harvard coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “When it mattered most, he was the best player on the field.”
With the win and the program’s first Ivy League title since 1990, the Crimson will host the conference tournament next weekend.
Harvard’s sole league loss this year came against Penn, and that matchup was decided in sudden-death overtime.
“I am so proud of our players,” Wojcik said. “They have worked so hard for this, and winning the Ivy League championship is a testament to them and how much they’ve done.”
Harvard struck first in the match, as sophomore attackman Deke Burns caught a pass from classmate Devin Dwyer to give Harvard the advantage.
But Bulldog senior attackman Brandon Mangan responded quickly to tie the game, and proceeded to convert again, putting Yale up by one.
Co-captain Peter Schwartz then drew a Bulldog penalty after driving for a shot, and followed that up with a goal, assisted by Dwyer. After a quick faceoff win, sophomore midfielder Mark Glicini tallied for Yale to put his team back up. Dwyer notched his third assist a few minutes later, finding senior midfielder Daniel Eipp to tie the game heading into the second quarter.
At this point, Gambitsky had made six crucial saves to keep Harvard in the game. The Crimson had won only two of seven faceoffs, and was losing the possession battle, but still went into the break tied.
“Jake came up clutch for us,” co-captain defenseman Joe Petrucci said. “He’s built up a lot of confidence throughout the year, and he is really the backbone of our defense.”
Dwyer got his fourth assist on a pass to sophomore attackman Will Walker to start the second period. Two minutes later, sophomore attackman Ian Ardrey also notched a goal, sprinting around the goal for a diving shot, putting Harvard up by two.
But it was not long before the Bulldogs answered, as Mangan scored again, and then junior attackman Conrad Oberbeck tied the game.
The Bulldog defense seemed unable to control itself, giving up a total of six penalties before the end of the second quarter. Junior attackman Murphy Vandervelde scored on two of these, shooting from about 12 yards out each time, giving the Crimson a two-goal lead heading into the half.