Some games are won, some games are lost, and some games are never finished.
Last Saturday, the Harvard men's lacrosse team picked the final option and allowed a climactic match against Notre Dame to slip through its fingers.
Not this weekend.
On Saturday, the Crimson will travel to Chase Field to play Dartmouth in what will be the final regular season match for both teams. Harvard (3-9, 1-4 Ivy) will seek to erase the pain of last weekend's difficult loss to the Fighting Irish and hopes to close out a tumultuous season with a win.
"This season has definitely been a learning experience for us," junior goalie Keith Cynar said. "But hopefully, all of our work this year will culminate in a win."
The Crimson has lost its last six matches after beginning a promising season with a 3-3 record. After losing 73 percent of its team last year to graduation, Harvard has attempted all year to reconstruct another team capable of returning to the NCAA playoffs. Inconsistency and disharmony have plagued a young and inexperienced Harvard offense, which has been trying to find the right chemistry throughout the season.
The Crimson's plight manifested itself in the match against Notre Dame last weekend. After Harvard had attained a dominating 8-4 lead over the No. 13 Irish at the start of the third quarter, Notre Dame's offense exploded to produce five unanswered goals, the last coming with three seconds left to play for the 9-8 victory. Those three seconds marked the only time that Notre Dame had led the match.
"Basically, fatigue set in because it was 80 degrees outside [during the match], and it wore us out," Cynar said.
"I'd like to see our offense play more consistently [against Dartmouth] because we only played three quarters against Notre Dame, and that just wasn't enough to win the match for us," sophomore attacker Dana Sprong said.
In spite of the Crimson's heartbreaking loss, it can take solace in a few sparking gems from the match. Junior Lawson DeVries and sophomore Roger Buttles both led the Crimson with two goals against Notre Dame, and Cynar was able to swat away 15 Irish shots.
Harvard faces a much less intimidating opponent this weekend in Dartmouth. The Big Green (4-8, 1-4 Ivy) was destroyed last Saturday by the three-time defending champion Princeton Tigers by the score of 16-1. After one quarter, the Tigers had surged ahead to a 6-0 lead, and after the first half, Princeton led 12-1.
The Tigers outshot the Big Green 50-21. Dartmouth's lone goal was scored by freshman attacker Connor Price.
The Big Green's one-goal total was the team's lowest output since April 1970, when Dartmouth dropped an 11-1 decision to Yale.
Throughout the season, Dartmouth has toyed with a two-man goalie unit, with Andrew Dance and Patrick McClammer splitting playing time at the net.
"We're expecting a hard-fought game," Sprong said. "We really want to go out on a high note."
But Dartmouth has the potential to be dangerous.
"They're going to be a pretty good team," Buttles said. "They upset Brown earlier this season, and we'd lost to Brown. They're very capable of playing good games, but it all depends on what team comes out to play."
Harvard's match against Dartmouth will be its last match of the regular season, and in spite of Harvard's lackluster record, the team has made giant steps after beginning the year with only a handful of upperclassmen and a plethora of eager freshmen.
"We've gotten a lot better at having more patience and better ball movement as a team," Cynar said.
With eyes looking ahead to a successful next season, the Crimson now seeks to begin working toward that goal this weekend against the Big Green.
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