After a 12-4 drubbing at the hands of Princeton on Saturday, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team has now lost its last four games, its longest losing streak of the season.
Harvard (4-5, 1-3 Ivy) traveled to New Jersey Saturday hoping to end a three-game skid, against one of only three teams on its schedule not ranked in the top 25. Recent history, however, was not on the Crimson’s side, as Harvard held a 14-game losing streak against the Tigers. Make that 15.
“Princeton’s always really good,” junior attackman Steve Cohen said. “This was the game we were looking forward to so we could make a statement. Princeton’s having an off year and we were hoping to catch them. Obviously, that didn’t end up happening.”
After a tight, low-scoring first half that finished with Princeton holding a 3-1 lead, the Tigers came out with a vengeance in the second half and quickly put the game out of reach with three goals in the third quarter.
With 10:09 left in the third period, Princeton attackman Peter Trombino bounced a shot into the goal, eluding the grasp of the Harvard freshman goalie Evan O’Donnell. Only a few minutes later, with 7:12 minutes left in the quarter, the Tigers’ Jason Doneger snatched a pass from Pete Striebel and deposited into the back of the net, notching one of his five goals on the day.
Following another goal by the Tigers by midfielder Mike Gaudio with 2:31 left in the quarter, Harvard responded in the waning seconds of the quarter when freshman attackman Brooks Scholl snuck a goal past Princeton goalie Dave Law with 31 seconds remaining in the quarter. With the score standing 6-2, it seemed that Harvard had grabbed enough momentum to begin a fourth-quarter comeback.
The Crimson’s hope was short-lived, however, as the Tigers relentlessly refused to back down, and Doneger notched yet another goal, his fourth for the game, with nine seconds left in the period. The tally came on Princeton’s 10th shot of the period, and the Tigers proceeded to outshoot Harvard 26-15 over the course of the second half.
Even when the Crimson created chances in its offensive zone, it failed to convert as Princeton began to run away with the contest.
“We had shots all game,” junior midfielder Jake Samuelson said. “We just weren’t finding the back of the net. We had so many opportunities, but just didn’t finish.”
Princeton grabbed a 9-2 lead with two goals at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and added three more in a 2:37 span midway through the period to ice the game. Harvard did manage to get one more goal—a man-up tally by freshman midfielder Zach Widbin with 17 seconds remaining—for the 12-4 final.
While the game clearly did not end in the way the Crimson would have liked, the first half was full of positive signs. Although Princeton held distinct shot advantage in the second half, the game remained much more even throughout the first, as both teams finished with 17 shots.
“The defense was just amazing,” Samuelson said. “To let in only three goals in the first half is awesome. The offense has to hold up our end of the bargain.”
The Tigers got on the board first with a goal by attackman Whitney Hayes, who converted a pass from Gaudio with 12:37 left. Samuelson responded with an unassisted goal for Harvard with 9:41 remaining in the first quarter.
Doneger netted his first goal of the game only 32 seconds later, and continued his dominance by nailing his second goal with only 1:14 left in the half. Sowanick aided Doneger in his outstanding performance with four assists.
Scholl led the Harvard squad with two goals and ten shots in the game. Sophomore midfielder John Henry Flood won several faceoffs, giving the Crimson an advantage in possessions.
“John Henry really came up big for us,” Samuelson said. “He won a lot of faceoffs and got us many possessions.”
Harvard looks to get back on the winning track when they take on Yale at home on Saturday. With a week of practice before then, the Crimson hopes to work on its cohesiveness.
“We haven’t been playing well as a unit,” Samuelson said. “We’ve had lots of individual efforts, and now we just need to put it together.”
“We’re going to talk a lot about effort this week,” Cohen added. “We need to take pride in being Harvard lacrosse players. We need to have 100 percent effort and work as hard as we can.”