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Gritty Offense Crucial to Victory

By Jonathan P. Hay, Crimson Staff Writer

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That was the name of the game for the Harvard men’s lacrosse team in its 12-5 victory over Holy Cross at Jordan Field yesterday. The Crimson fired a whopping 52 shots in the game, including 30 that were on goal.

In fact, Harvard took as many shots in the third period—22—as the Crusaders took in the entire game.

Though impressive, the 12 goals tallied by the Crimson were a far cry from the 19 that the team recorded against Holy Cross in Worcester last year. However, the Harvard defense also held the Crusaders to fewer goals than they scored last season. The lower goal totals for both teams were in part attributable to the stalling tactics that Holy Cross employed.

“On offense, we just weren’t keeping possession,” junior midfielder Jake Samuelson said. “A team like that, you throw away the ball one or two times, and they come down and kill like seven minutes of the clock.”

Individually, the Crimson wasled by freshman attackman Brooks Scholl—who connected on two of his 10 shots—and tri-captain attackman Mike McBride—who was two for nine.

Fortunately for Harvard players, they showed yesterday that, when quality shots are hard to come by, they can rely on quantity to carry the day.

JEKYLL AND HYDE

Trailing by just two goals heading into the half, the Crusaders likely had visions of an upset in their heads. However, the Crimson came out after halftime and showed why it had won all ten of the previous meetings between these two teams, outshooting Holy Cross 22-2 in the third quarter and winning all seven face-offs.

“In the first half, we were a little bit lackadaisical in our possession of the ball,” senior defenseman Brian Wannop said. “We would get the ball on offense and try to go to goal, and they’d just strip us. [Eventually] we settled down a bit, got some good shots, and luckily they started going in.”

“This was definitely the best Holy Cross team [that we’ve faced] since I’ve been here,” he added.

For the first 30 minutes, Harvard barely resembled the team that defeated Bucknell in its season opener, as the Crusaders controlled the possession of the ball.

“We came into the season, nobody really knew anything about us, and we had a real big opening win,” said Samuelson. “Then to come back and play our second game and have a real bad half against a team that we should be killing, it’s a wake-up call. I think we were taking them a little bit lightly.”

The second 30 minutes were an entirely different story as the Crimson dominated every facet of the game while building a big lead. Largely due to the efforts of sophomore midfielder John Henry Flood, Harvard won all 10 second-half faceoffs. The Crimson also outshot Holy Cross by 21, gathered seven more ground balls, and was nearly perfect in its clear opportunities in the half.

DON’T SAY I NEVER GAVE YOU ANYTHING

Harvard entered yesterday’s game ranked No. 20 in the nation, marking the Crimson’s first foray into the top-20 this season.

Why is this noteworthy?

Harvard didn’t even play last week.

The Crimson defeated the Bison on March 5. When the rankings came out that week, Harvard found itself just outside the top-20, in the dubious “Others Receiving Votes” category.

While Harvard’s game against Massachusetts was cancelled last week due to inclement weather, Bucknell did the Crimson a favor by defeating then-No.2 Navy in overtime.

The victory propelled the Bison to No. 18 in this week’s rankings, and due to the fact that Harvard’s victory over Bucknell became more impressive in light of the recent events, the Crimson found itself in the No. 20 spot.

“It’s kind of nice,” said Wannop. “[It was] a good win over Bucknell. We really haven’t proven anything yet, [but] it’s a nice honor.”

OVERTIME

The first-year head coach of the Crusaders, Adam Pascal, was an assistant coach at Harvard in 2002… For the second time in as many games, exactly nine different players scored at least one goal for the Crimson… Two freshman—Scholl and attackman Zach Widbin—are currently tied for the Harvard goal-scoring lead, with four apiece.

—Staff writer Jonathan P. Hay can be reached at hay@fas.harvard.edu.

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Men's Lacrosse