The graduation of prolific All-America attacker Dave Kramer last year left many Harvard lacrosse afficionadoes wondering just who on this year's young Crimson team was going to be able to put the ball in the net.
Most eyes turned to senior Mick Cavuoti. Lax fans knew that Cavuoti, a highly recruited attacker from Garden City, N.Y., had the potential to be among the best players in the nation. Many people thought that the Crimson's success this year would rely on Cavuoti assuming a more dominant scoring role than he has in the past.
And while Harvard has not played up to its potential, Cavuoti certainly has. In six games this season, the senior standout has tallied 13 goals and 12 assists to lead the Crimson.
Cavuoti was named Ivy League Player of the Week last week after a four-goal, three-assist effort in the Crimson's dramatic 12-11 victory over Pennsylvania. He notched the game-winning goal 54 seconds into the second overtime, securing Harvard's first Ivy victory.
And Cavuoti was perhaps the lone bright spot in Harvard's disappointing loss to Vermont, 7-6, Wednesday in Burlington, VT. The tri-captain scored four goals, including a shot from the left side which beat Catamount netminder Chris McCabe to tie the contest at six with just over two minutes left in regulation.
"I've been shooting a lot better recently," Cavuoti said. "I usually have a lot of near misses, but I've been making those this season."
So far this season, Yale forward Eric Zelko and Princeton netminder Scott Bacigalupo have stolen the show as the top rookies in the Ivy League.
Zelko won Ivy League Rookie of the Week last week for netting three goals and two assists in the Elis' 12-8 victory over Cornell and six goals and two assists in Yale's 17-11 win against Vermont. The freshman leads the lvies in goals (26), is second in total points (35) and is only five points from breaking the Yale freshman points record.
Bacigalupo, on the other hand, has been an important presence in the Tigers' rise to third in the nation this year. After beating out last year's All-Ivy Honorable Mention Jim Ardrey for the starting duties between the twines for the Tigers, the hot-shot freshman leads the Ivy League in goaltending with a 7.15 goals-against-average.
Harvard has a standout first-year of its own in attacker Mike Porter. While not an assist man, Porter is second only to Cavuoti in goals this year with nine tallies. Overall, the freshman attacker is fourth on the Crimson in scoring with nine points (all goals).
Ivy League schools are again making a strong bid in the national polls this year, though not quite as strong as last year when Brown, Harvard and Yale were all ranked in the top four at one point.
Princeton (6-1) continues to roll, most recently beating 13th-ranked Rutgers, 9-6, in Princeton, N.J., last Saturday. The Tigers are ranked third in the latest USILA poll, one notch ahead of undefeated Brown (5-0).
Brown's high-powered offense has been the reason for its success this year. Juniors Darren Lowe and Andy Towers and senior Jay McMahon have all cracked the 100-point career-scoring mark.
The critical showdown between Princeton and Brown takes place next Saturday at Princeton.
Rounding out the Ivy slate in the USILA poll, Yale is ranked 11th, Cornell is 12th, and Pennsylvania is 15th.
A Look Ahead
Harvard has plenty of time to get the loss to the Catamounts out of its system. The Crimson still has a week before resuming its regular-season schedule next Saturday at Adelphi.
The week after the Adelphi game, Harvard plays Brown at home and Princeton away in a four-day stretch that is the toughest part of the Crimson's season.