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Men's Lacrosse Overwhelmed by Boston University

Captain Morgan
Junior attacker Morgan Cheek, pictured in previous action against UMass Amherst, picked up two points in a loss to BU.

After being overwhelmed by its cross-town rival’s potent offense, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team continued its recent slide.

The Crimson (4-3, 0-1 Ivy League) suffered its third-straight loss at the hands of No. 19 Boston University (7-1, 2-1 Patriot League) Tuesday evening at Nickerson Field in Boston, Massachusetts. The squad made the short trip down Storrow Drive to face the Terriers, who are off to their best start in program history.

“I think we gave a good effort, but we were outplayed overall,” head coach Chris Wojcik said. “I thought BU made more plays in almost all areas of the game, and credit them—they played a good game, and they were the better team tonight.”

One area in which Harvard excels is early offensive production. The Crimson has scored first in all but one game this season. Tuesday was no different, as junior midfielder Carney Mahon scored his sixth goal of the season 1:33 into play to put Harvard up 1-0. The Garden City, N.Y. native notched another goal with 6:29 remaining in the fourth quarter to add to his tally.

BU quickly responded with three unanswered goals to end the first quarter leading 3-1. The Terriers connected on four more shots in the second frame to leave Harvard trailing 7-4 at the half.

Harvard’s faceoff inefficiency has taken a toll on the Crimson’s chances at success over the past three games. Harvard has been outpaced at the X in six of seven games this year. The Crimson won the faceoff battle, 16-10, in its season opener at UMass Lowell, while Harvard won just 7 of 25 against the Terriers, dropping the team’s percentage to 39.8 on the season. The squad ranked 56th nationally in faceoff win percentage in the most recent statistical release.

“We haven’t been executing there,” Wojcik said. “We’ll continue to work hard, and make adjustments. James [Sullivan] is our primary faceoff guy, along with a number of other guys, but I think a big part of it was the wings. We created a lot of 50/50s, but we didn’t get the ground balls. That was a big part of the game—a disappointing part of the game—but we’re going to continue what we’re doing everyday to try to get better at the X.”

Harvard’s troubles in the middle third of the field were a catalyst for BU’s 45 shots. By contrast Harvard could only muster 21. The Terriers also scooped up 13 more ground balls than the Crimson.

“We haven’t been playing up to our potential, and we haven’t been playing as well as we would like to the past few games, so I think we just need to get back to the basics,” junior goalie Robert Shaw said. “What makes us a good team is our good attitude, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that over the next couple of days.”

Junior attacker J.T. Palladino continued his run of strong play for the campaign, scoring his fourth and fifth goals of the season over a 6:46 span early in the second quarter—his only two shots of the game. His classmate, attacker Morgan Cheek, who ranks third in the nation in goals per game, was limited to a goal and an assist.

The ever-consistent junior midfielder Joe Lang scored his ninth goal of the season with 5:11 to play in the first half, and has now tallied at least one point in 24 straight contests. This mark is just one shy of Cheek, who extended his streak to 25.

The Crimson has been faring much better on the defensive side. The team’s back line, which allows the third-least goals in the Ivy League, played another solid game, but could not overcome the Terriers’ shooting barrage. Harvard’s netminder, Shaw, ranks 10th in the nation with 12.56 saves per game. Among keepers that play at least 60 percent of their team’s minutes, Shaw’s 0.553 save percentage lands him at second in the Ancient Eight and 13th in the country. The Roxbury Latin product saw 27 shots on goal, and made 14 saves against BU.

After Terriers junior attacker Jack Wilson was penalized for a cross-check, freshman attacker Connor McCroskey capitalized on the extra-man opportunity, scoring his second goal of the season with 8:11 to play in the third quarter. McCroskey’s goal left the Crimson trailing 6-7, but from there the Terriers’ senior attacker Cal Dearth overwhelmed Harvard’s defense en route to tying a BU program record with 7 points, leading the Terriers to victory.

“Tonight was illuminating in terms of where we need to learn, and what we need to do better,” Wojcik said. “So we’ll watch the film together as a team tomorrow, we’ll practice, and basically be working on better execution in each area of the field. We take it one day at a time, and we’ll be back tomorrow just trying to make progress.”

—Staff writer Will V. Robbins can be reached at will.robbins@thecrimson.com

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