It wasn't the best game that the Harvard men's lacrosse team has played this year.
But with an NCAA bid hanging in the balance, the Crimson was able to close out its regular season on a positive note, edging Dartmouth, 6-5, Saturday.
Harvard got the ball rolling first, soaring out to a 5-0 lead before the Big Green knew what hit it. Despite playing shorthanded three times in this span, five players tallied for the Crimson in this miniature rout.
"We started playing awesome in the first ten minutes," senior Tri-Captain Rich van den Broek said.
But then Dartmouth goaltender Rob Hollister and the rest of the Big Green defense began to frustrate the Harvard offense.
"Since [Dartmouth's defense] was so tight, it was hard to get an inside shot off," Tri-Captain Bill Pennoyer said.
The Dartmouth junior made 12 saves in the second and third periods, shutting out Harvard for a stretch of 28 minutes. During that span, the Big Green was making its own momentum against senior goaltender Mike Bergmann.
"Dartmouth is still a good enough team so that you can't go to sleep against them," van den Broek said.
With 10 minutes left in the game, Dartmouth had closed the gap to 5-4.
But then freshman Mickey Cavuoti, still limping from a hard check thrown at him in the third quarter, flicked in a long-range shot which somehow beat the Big Green's dense-pack formation.
While Pennoyer was out of the game on a late holding penalty, Dartmouth's Mike Herring scored off a Chris Bates feed and suddenly the lead was down to one again.
The Big Green kept attacking Bergmann and the Harvard defense again and again in the final minute and a half, as the momentum was in its favor. Bergmann was sparkling in the crease as the Crimson circled the wagons for the final Indian attack.
"If it wasn't for Bergie," van den Broek said, "It would have gotten ugly in the last couple of minutes."
The Harvard men's lacrosse team is seeded eighth in the NCAA Division I tournament, and will play the ninth-seeded U.S. Naval. Academy Wednesday in the first round at Ohiri Field. The winner will play the top-ranked Syracuse Orangeman at the Carrier Dome.
"I'm really psyched," TriCaptain Rich van den Broek said. See related story.