Entering the 2000 campaign, all the talk surrounding the Harvard men's lacrosse team centered on forgetting the previous year's 3-10 mark and starting fresh with a stronger, deeper, more experienced squad.
"The returning veterans have the vivid memories of last year's frustrations, and are motivated by those memories to produce a more cohesive product this season," read the 2000 season outlook. "All signs point to a renewed enthusiasm and a confidence that this team will return to its winning ways."
In some sense, the Crimson lived up to all of the hype about its new outlook. The 2000 squad looked much tighter all over the field, and a full-season effort put Harvard lacrosse back above the .500 mark with a 7-6 record overall.
In the Ivy League, always one of the toughest conferences in the nation, the Crimson went 3-3 despite a surprise at Yale in a 14-5 blowout.
Even as the squad dropped six of seven after starting the season 5-0, Harvard did not appear to lose any intensity as it had done the year before in a similar late-season slide.
But Harvard also learned that enthusiasm and confidence can only go so far.
At some point, any strong team in any sport needs someone to step into the scoring role and put the ball in the net, hoop or hole when the pressure is on. Call it whatever you like--leadership, a scoring sense or steely nerves--without "it" big games will always slip away.
For a Crimson team that often showed signs of promising offensive cohesion, this was clearly one of the largest stumbling blocks this year.
The Crimson began the year with strong showings in each of its first three games, including a 19-2 thrashing of B.C. in the opener and a strong 8-7 win against historically strong Hobart.
Around the net, the Crimson looked sharp in its cycle of passes and found great success when it inverted its midfielders, a trademark of Harvard's offense for the last few years.
But even in Harvard's wins against Penn and Fairfield, there seemed to be some trouble with offensive conversion. Against a weak Penn team, the Crimson won by only three, and against the Stags it eked out a one-goal win in the closing minutes.
The Crimson was winning, but not by much, and the heart of the season still remained. Things looked a bit shaky and unsure.
Six losses in seven games cleared up any questions.
Harvard had some very strong individual efforts, most notably from freshman attackman Matt Primm, whose sense for the back of the net put him among the Ivy League's top five scorers for the season with 38 goals and 14 assists.
Primm was also named Ivy League Rookie of the Week four separate times.
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