It doesn't take an athlete very long to learn that if he doesn't score the winning tally or monopolize the scorebook, he's sure to be thrown out of "Hero of the Game" court for insufficient evidence.
But for anyone who witnessed the lacrosse team's 14-10 triumph over Princeton on Saturday afternoon, fast breaks and roll dodges and leading scores were but opening acts for the main attraction. Sure, it was Harvard's ball game, but it was Jamie Egasti's day.
Egasti, the diminutive junior midfielder (don't believe any of that 5-ft., 9-in. Jazz in the program, either) played uncaged animal at the faceoff circle all day long. He won 27 of 28 faceoffs, and prompted Coach Bob Scalise to cite him as the number one factor for Harvard domination in the game. Meanwhile, teammate Mike Faught, who rifled home an impressive five goals during the contest, was simply amazed. "Jamie was just incredible," he said, "I've never heard of anyone winning that many face-offs before."
Save "incredible" for him, but use "strong" and "encouraging" for many aspects of the Harvard show that turned a two-way first half street into a one-way victory cruise.
Tied 7-7 after a rather chippy first half, the Crimson got virtual game-lasting momentum in the form of a Faught one-on-one dodge goal with less than a minute gone in the third quarter.
"That was the one that broke Princeton's back," said Scalise afterwards, "Right after the whistle Steve (Martin) fed Mike for the quick one."
Though Princeton's Bob Thomas came right back to tie the game less than a minute later, things had already begun to take a Harvard turn.
The Crimson defense, viciously anchored by Haywood Miller and Mike Kennedy, totally shut off the Tigers' inside game, and by the fourth quarter had the frustrated boys from New Jersey throwing up unanswered prayer-bombs from distant suburbs of the crease.
Meanwhile, Harvard's offense, featuring good ball movement and Princeton's over-concentration on the Crimson's Peter Predun, turned the 8-8 game into an 11-9 third-quarter margin, as tallies by Predun and Bill Forbush sandwiched themselves around Faught's fourth of the afternoon.
A man-up goal by Tiger Tom Leyden at 0:43 of the fourth made things queasy for eight minutes until Martin and Faught's give-and-go score at 8:40 was the tab that made Princeton give up and go home. Martin and Jim Ossyra (his third) then gave Harvard its 13th and 14th goals.
The first half did not come as easy, as Princeton enjoyed a 3-1 lead until halfway through the opening stanza, when the stickmen played catch-up berserk style, scoring four goals in a little over a minute and a half. Egasti, Gordie Nelson, Bobby Mellen and Mr. Faught did the honors. That made it 5-3.
But second-quarter penalties took a pneumatic drill to the Crimson's lead, as Princeton scored three of its next four goals a man up, while Harvard could only counter with a pair of power-play tallies by Ossyra, hence the deadlock.
However, halftime ties and close-on-the-scoreboard don't mean anything when Jamie Egasti is master of ceremonies. The Crimson dominated the little big things throughout (ground balls, shots, clears, etc.), and with the little guy's work on the faceoffs, it seemed an afternoon of unfair advantage.
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