While most of their classmates were partying the week away, the members of the Harvard men’s lacrosse team closed out their spring break in something less than a party mood.
The Crimson (4-2) played two away games over spring break, winning the first against Quinnipiac on March 29 but settling for a hard loss against Denver Saturday.
DENVER 9, HARVARD 8
DENVER, Colo.—After a hard game played in hot weather and high altitude, Harvard was on the verge of a one-goal win only to see victory evaporate in the final seconds of play as the Pioneers (5-2) snatched a 9-8 win at Peter Barton Stadium.
“The game was basically over,” said junior midfielder Jake Samuelson. “The last minute seemed almost like a blur to me. We were ready to celebrate that game.”
With the score 8-7 and less than a minute remaining in the fourth period, a Crimson win seemed inevitable.
But with only 35 seconds left, Denver won the face-off and charged the net, where Andrew McCuiston scored his first goal of the year to tie the game.
The Pioneeers won the ensuing face-off and raced downfield where Brandon Barcus was able to put away the winning shot with just 24 seconds remaining.
“We got a couple of bad bounces and they came and completed their game,” Samuelson said. “The last two shots they threw in were just bullets. It was a tough break.”
Harvard had grabbed the momentum early in the first period with a three-goal streak. Sophomore midfielder Carle Stenmark, playing against doctors orders because of a torn ACL, got the first goal of the game during a man-up advantage for the Crimson, catching a pass from freshman attackman Zach Widbin to score his first of two goals.
Junior attackman Sean Kane then sent a pass across the goal to sophomore midfielder Evan Calvert who found the net to spot Harvard a 2-0 lead.
Samuelson finished out the streak when he rushed in from the left side to score with a bounced-in shot.
The Pioneers scored two goals late in the period to get on the board. But Harvard was not really jarred until a questionable call from the referees disallowed the Crimson’s next goal.
Freshman attackman Brooks Scholl shot from close in front but after the play the Pioneer goalie claimed Scholl had crossed the crease. The goal was deemed invalid.
“That’s something that we would like to do: blame a game on the referees,” Samuelson said. “These are referees that referee all Denver’s games and we will never see these referees again and they don’t really care, but you can’t blame the referees.”
Denver took advantage of Harvard’s frustration going on a three-goal streak of its own to take a 5-3 halftime lead.
But Scholl was able to come back as he scored the first goal of the third period when he when he once again put the ball in the net right in front during a man-up advantage for the Crimson.
Harvard managed to stay close with the Pioneers for the remainder of the period, and the teams headed into the climactic fourth period tied at six.
“We were expecting a tough game,” senior midfielder Doug Kocis said. “We knew it was going to be really tough to beat these guys. This year we came in expecting a battle.”
HARVARD 9, QUINNIPIAC 4
With four of Harvard’s nine goals, Scholl seemed anything but a rookie in the Crimson’s 9-4 rout of Quinnipiac (0-7) on March 29 at Yale’s Johnson Field.
Scholl has scored multiple goals in every game this season, but he was particularly impressive in Tuesday’s win with his four goals in three periods.
“So far [Scholl] has been throwing them in the back of the net and we can’t ask any more of him,” Samuelson said. “He is drawing their best defensemen and is still scoring goals.”
Scholl’s first goal also neutralized the Bobcats’ only lead of the game as Quinnipiac’s Josh Murray scored his first of three goals and got the first goal of the game at 9:57 in the first period.
But Harvard responded with a four-goal streak in the last two minutes of the first period to grab a 4-1 lead, led by Scholl’s two goals and an assist.
The Bobcats opened up the second period with another goal from Murray at 9:54. But the Harvard freshmen were not to be outdone, as Widbin initiated a three-goal run to comfortably pad the Crimson’s lead.
Widbin scored two goals in the period off assists from Calvert and Samuelson, with Scholl notching his third goal of the game between Widbin’s two attacks.
“[Widbin] has been playing fantastic,” Kocis said. “Not just in scoring goals and making plays but also in getting ground balls and possession. He has really stepped up and been a surprise for us.”
The Bobcats were overmatched in several categories, particularly in center field where sophomore midfielder John Henry Flood won 15 of 17 face-offs.
“That really was a huge factor in winning,” Kocis said. “It gave us possession of the ball for most of the game. It prevented them from going on any runs.”
Harvard also had a 26-16 advantage in ground balls and outshot Quinnipiac 34-26. Freshman goalie Evan O’Donnell registered 12 saves for Harvard.
—Staff writer Abigail M. Baird can be reached at email@example.com.