Male Breakout Player of the Year, Runner-Up: Jake Gambitsky

After back surgery in the August prior to his junior year, Jake Gambitsky returned to the Harvard men’s lacrosse team before the 2014 season as a better goaltender and a better leader.

“I really think his technique has improved,” Harvard coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “Adam Ghitelman has done a great job coaching Jake and all of the goalies…. When you combine his improving on some of the finer points with his increased confidence, I think that makes him a great goalie now.”

Gambitsky began his career at Harvard strongly. As a rookie, he appeared in nine games, serving as a starter in seven. The then-freshman made 74 saves in his first year of collegiate play.

“As a goalie, you are definitely humbled coming into college,” Gambitsky said. “It is easier to succeed in high school as a goalie, when the shots are slower and the attackers aren’t as strong.”

The following year for Gambitsky proved more difficult than his first. As a sophomore, he appeared in just two games, serving as backup to then-senior Harry Krieger.

“[In my] sophomore year, play time was rocky at times,” Gambitsky said. “I had Harry Krieger in front of me…. I kind of learned under him last year a lot. It was great to see how his playing style compared to mine. I tried to take things out of his game and influence them into my own.”

This year, however, Gambitsky served as the sole starting goalie for the Crimson. Under the coaching of Ghitelman and using the techniques he learned from watching Krieger, Gambitsky ranked 28th in the nation for goals against average.

The junior let just 9.87 shots per game pass him on average, and was named second team All-Ivy.

“I think we have one of the best defensive units in the country ,” Gambitsky said.

“[Co-captain] Joe Petrucci, [sophomore Stephen] Jahelka, and [sophomore Bobby] Duvnjak down low are all protecting me and are aggressive guys,” Gambitsky said. “They definitely give me the opportunity to make saves I want to make.”

But a big part of Gambitsky’s job description as goalie is to direct his defense to guard the formidable attackers Harvard faced all year. Thanks to both his ability to communicate and talent for stonewalling the opposing offense, Gambitsky was voted as one of the captains for the upcoming season.

“I think that one thing we saw with Jake this year, too, was his improved communication, which is really important for a goalie,” Wojcik said. “It is actually a skill in lacrosse to be able to effectively communicate, which will no doubt help carry over to his role as captain.”

—Staff writer Caroline L. Ferguson can be reached at carolineferguson@college.harvard.edu.

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