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You know what they say about the armed services--they don't ask for experience, they give it.
Today, the Harvard men's lacrosse team will get its first taste of NCAA Tournament experience since 1980 when it faces the United States Naval Academy at 3 p.m. at Ohiri Field. Tickets ($4 for adults, $2 for students) can be purchased at the gate.
By some twist of lacrosse logic, the Crimson was given home field advantage for this contest even though Navy--the number seven ranked team in the nation--finished three places higher than Harvard in national polls.
Ohiri has been kind to the Crimson. Harvard (11-3 overall and seeded eighth in the tournament) owns a 8-0 record on its home turf.
Away from its own shores, Navy (7-4 overall and seeded 10th) is 4-1. So much for Harvard's home field advantage.
In other NCAA first-round games today, number-12 seed Air Force (13-3) will face number-five Loyola (11-1) in Loyola, Md. Number-11 seed Cornell (6-5 and last year's NCAA Tournament runner-up) will square-off against the University of Massachusetts (10-2) in Amherst. And number-10 seed Virginia (7-4) will meet number-seven Yale (12-3) in New Haven, Conn.
Meanwhile, the top four seeds--number-one Syracuse (12-0), number-two Johns Hopkins (9-1 and the defending national champion), number-three North Carolina (9-2) and number-four Pennsylvania (10-3 and the Ivy League champion)--sit in waiting and will host first-round winners Sunday.
The winner of the Harvard-Navy showdown will face Syracuse in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
The Midshipmen match the Crimson well up and down the field. Navy has a great scorer in Mike Herger (22 goals and 25 assists for 47 points). Harvard has a great scorer in Mickey Cavuoti (24-16--40).
Herger has a fine supporting scoring cast in Paul Basile (15-21--36) and Brian Keith (26-7--33). Cavuoti has a pair of stellar co-stars in David Kramer (30-6--36) and Brad Raymond (17-10--27).
Defense has been the Crimson's passport to success all year. When the offense decides to throw down towels, bring out a volleyball and have a beach party, the defense keeps right on working. During an extended offensive holiday against Vermont April 6, Harvard goalie Mike Bergmann had his hands--and his lacrosse stick--full.
The Crimson offense went number for 26 minutes, but Bergmann fought off the Cat attack and helped Harvard to a 10-5 victory. Twice this year, Bergmann has turned in 18-save performances. Those efforts occurred in back-to-back games--an 8-3 victory over Adelphi (April 16) and a 9-6 loss to Brown (April 20).
Bergmann, a first-team All-Star selection, is the owner of a 5.75 goals-against average and a .705 save percentage. On the other end of the field, Navy will put Joe Donnelly (6.22 g.a.a. and a .635 save percentage) in the net.
Bergmann gets help from All-Ivy defenseman Bill Pennoyer and Rich van den Broek, who returned to the line-up last Saturday after injuries kept him out for most of the season.
If the Crimson holds Navy to under six goals--a realistic possiblity with Harvard's Tri-Captains (Bergmann, Pennoyer and van den Broek) acting as bouncers outside the Crimson goal--it should pull out a victory.
The prospects for further Harvard success in the tournament are slim at best, however. Syracuse hasn't lost--at home, on the road, anywhere. A win in the Carrier Dome this Sunday would rank as Harvard's biggest victory ever.
Against tournament participants, the Crimson owns a 2-2 record. (The Midshipmen, incidentally, are 1-3.) In its only other NCAA Tournament game, the Crimson fell to Johns Hopkins, 16-12, in the quarterfinals in 1980.
Harvard will have to be all it can be to get by Navy today. But to go further in this talent-soaked tournament, Harvard will have to be Popeye the Sailor Man.
Harvard leading-scorer Mickey Cavuoti was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year yesterday in a unanimous vote of the league's coaches. Cavuoti, who recorded 40 points this year and helped lead Harvard into the NCAA Tournament, was also named second-team All-Ivy.
Harvard Tri-Captains Mike Bergmann (goalie) and Bill Pennoyer (defenseman) were voted onto the All-Ivy first team.
Crimson attack Dave Kramer (the team's second-leading scorer) and midfielder Perry Dodge earned honorable mention All-Ivy honors. Harvard's 1988 Results
Date Opponent Score W/L 3/12 at C.W. Post 5-4 W 3/19 CORNELL 7-6 W 3/22 BOSTON COLLEGE 9-2 W 3/26 SPRINGFIELD 15-3 W 4/2 at Penn 10-15 L 4/6 VERMONT 10-5 W 4/11 ST. JOHN'S 9-3 W 4/16 ADELPHI 8-3 W 4/20 at Brown 6-9 L 4/23 PRINCETON 15-5 W 4/27 at Massachusetts 5-7 L 4/30 at Yale 11-10 W 5/4 at New Hampshire 15-4 W 5/14 DARTMOUTH 6-5 W
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