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There were chilling winds and numbing rains. There was a barrage of uncontrolled slashes and illegal checks doled out by the Brown lacrosse team. And there was a game-tying goal by the Bruins with just two seconds left in regulation. But after all that, there was, ultimately, Harvard's Mike Ward punching the ball in the Brown net 2:50 into sudden-death overtime to give the Crimson a dramatic, 13-12 win at the Business School field Saturday.
For the players and coaches of both teams and the 120 or so fans who gallantly fared the weather, Saturday's contest was a thriller of the first degree.
Neither team could carve out anything more than a one-goal advantage for the last 41 minutes of the game, as the lead see-sawed back and forth. Both squads played exceptionally well, with the offenses clicking at both ends and the tenacious defenses forcing numerous turnovers and generating mercurial fast breaks.
"It was the greatest game I've ever played in." Harvard goalie Kenny First said after the game. "That was the first game that didn't slow down or didn't get boring because of the loss of the face-off."
The contest's two key plays--the Crimson goal that won it, and the Brown goal that forced OT--were as electrifying as you'll ever see at the B-School field.
The game-winning assault originated as a clear behind the Harvard goal. Brown lost possession when attackman Rick Handelman was called for holding Harvard defenseman Scott Pink's stick.
Goaltender First then hit defenseman Haywood Miller with an outlet pass, and Miller fed Bill Forbush at midfield. Forbush connected with Frank Prezioso, who in turn sent Pete Predun into the offensive zone.
Then came the fireworks. Predun found sharpshooter Mike Faught in the slot and Faught laid a perfect feed into the stick of Ward, who faked high and dropped the ball past Brown goalie Charlie Meister. Seven of the ten Harvard players were involved in the extraordinary fast-break.
"Not many teams are capable of scoring a goal that way." Crimson coach Bob Scalise said yesterday.
"My defenseman left me, so there were two guys on Faught." Ward said just seconds after the tally. "I cut to the ball and Faught made a beautiful pass."
Tad Barrows, Brown's star of the game with four goals, had earlier stunned the Crimson by drilling a bounce shot past First to tie the game at 12-all with two seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Seconds before, a Bruin defender illegally pushed Faught, preventing the Crimson attackman from catching a crucial pass. The ball flew out of bounds and Brown was granted possession on a questionable call.
Bruin Henry Pippins then lofted an arching pass in the direction of Barrows, who made the catch in spite of a fierce check by Harvard's Jamie Egasti. Barrows sprinted cross-field and burned First with his buzzer-beater. The Brown bench went berserk, swarming their momentary hero.
"It was a one in a million shot," First said. "Jamie checked his [Barrows'] stick and there was no backup. He put it off side low. It was a great shot. I felt sick after that shot."
In spite of the game's tension and Harvard's inability to take a commanding lead, Scalise said, "Throughout the game we were confident that we would win."
The victory raised Harvard's record to 5-2 with seven games remaining. "That was a key game for us," First said. "It really brought the team together."
HIGHLIGHTS: The Harvard coaches awarded middie Gordie Nelson with the first-ever Evel Knievel award for guts and play above and beyond the call of duty. Nelson scored three crafty goals and an assist.
All-American midfielder Peter Predun may be lost indefinitely to the Crimson--Predun suffered a bone chip and possibly a severed tendon in his thumb when the Brown goalie delivered a late hit in the third quarter. Predun finished the game despite the injury. Bruin goalie Meister received an unnecessary roughness penalty on the play.
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