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The Harvard stickmen dropped a seesaw battle to the undefeated, fifth-ranked Penn Quakers at the Business School Field Saturday, 11-9.
The effort was encouraging, but it was still a loss, and it climaxed a thoroughly disappointing Spring schedule. With three losses in four games, the team saw its preseason hopes for an NCAA tournament go down the tube before the season was even half over.
The vacation began with a trip to Long Island and a game against ninth-ranked Hofstra. Hoping to avenge last season's 11-7 loss to the Flying Dutchmen, the stickmen instead had to swallow a bigger dose of the same.
Leading 9-4 after three quarters, Hofstra blew Harvard off the field in the final 15 minutes, pouring in five unanswered tallies.
After exploding for ten points in Harvard's opener against overmatched Mass Maritime, freshman Pete Predun came up empty against Hofstra. Billy MacKenzie led the Crimson with a pair of goals, but Hofstra broke 26 of the visitors' cleats and shut down the Harvard attack completely.
The Crimson got back on the winning track two days later at C.W. Post. MacKenzie broke loose for a hat trick in the second half, when the stickmen outdid their foes, 5-2, to earn a 9-7 victory after trailing at the half. The senior attackman had garnered three assists in the first half to give him six points for the afternoon.
A slow start cost Harvard Wednesday's game against Adelphi, a small college meanie the Crimson whipped in 1976, 11-9. Before Gordie Nelson got the stickmen their second tally of the day only minutes before the half, Harvard had been outscored, 4-1.
Nelson connected twice more in the second half, but Adelphi held on for a 9-6 victory.
Reshuffling for penn
After cranking out more than 13 goals a game last Spring, the Harvard offense was clearly not clicking, so Crimson coach Bob Scalise prepared for the clash with Penn by shuffling his inexperienced midfields and moving Predun to attack, where he could play full-time and make the best of his flashy one-on-one moves. Gordie Nelson moved to a midfield slot.
For 50 minutes Saturday, it looked like the adjustments would pay off and earth the Crimson an upset over the red-hot Quakers. At 4:04 of the final quarter, MacKenzie rung up the third goal of his hat trick to tie the game, 9-9. Penn looked tired, and when Michelson stopped a point-blank shot to stymie a Quaker scoring bid moments later, the momentum seemed to have swung to the well-conditioned Crimson.
But then Predun, who had already matched Mackenzie's three-goal outburst, missed a shot after beautiful passes by MacKenzie and Steve Martin had left the freshman all alone, face-to-face with the defenseless Penn netminder.
Seconds later, All-Ivy middie Mike Page fired a blue dart past Michelson from up top, and Penn had the game in hand. Freshman Pete Eisenbrandt, whom the Penn coach had been screaming at from the sidelines all afternoon for one miscue or another, atoned for his earlier lapses by notching the insurance marker two minutes later.
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