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For all practical purposes, the Harvard men's lacrosse team secured a share of the Ivy League title two weeks ago with its 8-7 double-overtime upset of Yale. That matchup against the Elis was everything a championship game should have been.
But the Crimson's Ivy slate was not over yet. Saturday afternoon at Ohiri Field, the squad applied the rubber stamp on its first Ivy title in 11 years, defeating cellar-dweller Dartmouth, 15-10.
With the victory, Harvard (11-2 overall, 5-1 Ivy) tied the Elis for the Ivy title. The win also maintained the Crimson's number-five ranking, setting up a matchup against 12th-ranked Notre Dame Wednesday at The Stadium in the first round of the NCAA tournament, which was announced yesterday (see related story).
"It's a good feeling but I'm not letting myself bask in it because the season isn't over yet," Harvard Co-Captain Perry Dodge said. "We have higher goals than this."
In the most anti-climatic game of its season, Harvard played what Coach Scott Anderson called its "worst game of the season."
"I know their coach thinks they didn't play well, but I thought we had a lot to do with that," Dartmouth Coach Tim Nelson said. "We're a better team than people give us credit for."
On the defensive end, the overmatched Big Green (0-6 Ivy) played a style of defense characteristic of inferior teams. The Dartmouth long-stickers tried a man-to-man defense, rather than playing team defense with slides. The scheme left many Harvard attackers with one-on-one situations against the slower Big Green defenders. On the day, 10 different players scored for the Crimson.
In the first period, the Crimson offense was successful in finding good shots and open men at the crease. After Dartmouth took a 2-0 advantage, the Crimson rolled off an offensive spurt. Dave Kramer put Harvard on the scoreboard with a rifling shot after a break down the right side. Tim Reilly scored twice to pace the Crimson to a 6-3 lead at the end of the first period.
However, Dartmouth was successful in slowing the tempo of the game, which limited the effectiveness of Harvard's quick transition offense. Similar to last Wednesday's 13-12 upset loss to New Hampshire, the Crimson attack was flat and out-of-synch.
"We've had trouble with the slow downs. It's tough to get into the offensive flow," Harvard midfielder Tim Reilly said. "The team that sets the tempo gets in a groove. When UNH and Dartmouth set a slow tempo, it was frustrating."
The flat Harvard attack was unable to finish on many of its numerous scoring opportunities. In addition, Dartmouth freshman goalie John Banks had a career-high 22 saves, turning what should have been a blowout into a reasonably close game.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well," Anderson said. "We weren't patient to look for good shots rather than the first shots that we got."
The two teams traded three goals in the second period, giving Harvard a 9-6 lead at halftime. Harvard crease attacker Chip Linehan took a "Jon Reese-style" feed from Chad Prusmack after the freshman midfielder won the third period opening faceoff. Linehan easily put the ball by Banks for the only score of the period.
Dartmouth attacker Tim Wennrich scored to open the final frame, but Harvard rolled off four straight goals to make the score 14-7. Kramer's shot past Banks on the man-up situation was the highlight of the rally, which put the game out of reach.
"We're trying to get fired up for Wednesday and it's a little tough having a game like this," Harvard Co-Captain Mark Donovan said.
Crimson, 15-10 at Ohiri Field Dartmouth 3-3-0-4--10 HARVARD 6-3-1-5--15
Goals: D--Cliff Miller 3, Chris Bates, Brett Morrison 2, Tim Wennrich 2, Todd Gibby; H--Mark Donovan 2, Paul Faust 2, Dave Kramer 2, Chip Linehan, Tim Reilly 2, Mickey Cavuoti, Perry Dodge, Dan O' Sullivan, Don Rogers, Ralph Vogel.
Assists: D--Bates 2, Miller 2; H--Faust 2, Dodge, Donovan, O' Sullivan, Chad Prusmack.
Saves: D--John Banks 22; H--Chris Miller 10.
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