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Although 12:15 p.m. next Monday will mark the end of Crimson lacrosse co-captain Peter Predun's last final exam, the following Wednesday will provide yet another chance for the academic and athletically talented senior to showcase a selection of the skills he possesses as the stickmen make their first-ever appearance in the NCAA lacrosse playoffs against a still-unannounced foe.
After four seasons of starring for the Crimson, it seems only fitting that the All-American midfielder will cap off his career with a playoff performance. That prestigious berth at the NCAAs eluded the Crimson until this year, and finally achieving it allows Predun to attain all the goals he set in an outstanding year.
"The individual awards are flattering but they pale in comparison to accomplishing something major as a unit," Predun said recently.
In the playoffs, Predun and Co. may find themselves facing the University of Virginia Cavaliers or the perennially tough Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins. Both of these teams tried unsuccessfully to recruit Predun.
When he left Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, N.Y., where he played with twin brother Michael, now completing a fine career as a Brown defenseman, the versatile middie had already established himself as one of the top schoolboy prospects in the nation. College coaches, Harvard's Bob Scalise incuded, predicted that he would make the transition to their game with ease.
Predun chose Harvard and ushered in a new era of credibility to the developing program. His arrival in the fall of 1976 signaled the end of a drought which had left the Crimson without a highly touted lacrosse recruit since the late sixties.
"Once I was accepted here there was no question about coming. Nothing the other schools had to offer stacked up against Harvard's academics and the up-and-coming lacrosse program Scalise was building," Predun said.
Predun has divided his time in Cambridge carefully, always allowing time for lacrosse and coursework. This spring he managed to juggle lacrosse practice with completing an honors thesis on economic development.
In what little spare time he had left after those commitments, Predun landed a job in management training with Chase Manhattan Bank. Eventually he plans to attend business school.
An impressive knack for trading classroom brains for on-the-field smarts enabled the Crimson co-captain to make the most of his gifts.
"One of Peter's biggest assets is his intelligence when moving toward the cage. His best move is that change of direction, where he drives in and rolls back, leaving a committed defender behind. An acute sense of timing allows him to know when to complete the move or just give the fake," Scalise said yesterday.
Dazzling footwork coupled with outstanding standing stickwork gives Predun a basis on which to out-finesse his opponents. Not a particularly hard shooter, he relies instead on shot placement to rack up the goals.
From the very first time he donned the Harvard uniform, Predun has demonstrated his ability to score by himself or set up one of his reliable Crimson teammates. In that very first game against Mass Maritime, three years ago, the Long Islander notched five goals and five assists.
This season's seven-assist game against Yale followed by a six-goal outburst to help the laxmen drub UNH, served as reminders that the ambidextrous middie can do it all. Despite a serious hand injury which forced him to miss five games and finish his junior season in a cast, Predun now ranks number two on the Crimson's all-time scoring list with 169.
Against UMass one week ago yesterday, Predun was not a major factor in scoring, but his innate ability to move without the ball aided the stickmen's cause. The Minutemen, concerned with neutralizing his scoring potential, put their best defensemen on him. The rest of the potent Harvard offense exploited Predun's drawing the best defensemen and the double teams, and led the team to victory.
"When Peter came here he had the shots and the moves needed to be good, but since then he has added the little unsung things to make himself great. It is rare to find a major scoring threat, like Peter, so capable of playing defense. The balance of playing skills he employs makes him one of the best middies in the game now," Scalise said.
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