As it started the year, the men’s lacrosse team looked to be the best squad that Harvard had seen in a long time. With a talented freshman class rounding out the team, the first two games were easy going for the Crimson.
For its season opener, Harvard played Bucknell—a tough team to start a season against. But after a 9-0 run, the Crimson had a comfortable lead. With five goals from freshmen attackmen Brooks Scholl and Zach Widbin, Harvard won 12-9.
“You never know what to expect with freshmen,” junior midfielder Jake Samuelson said. “That first game showed us that they’re ready to play.”
Pushed into the national top 20 by the win, Harvard then faced Holy Cross. The Crimson revealed its fallibility by struggling in the first half, but a 7-0 run brought Harvard back ito win 12-5.
Yet early hopes withered in the midseason stretch. The squad hit a bump as it lost its first away game to Fairfield. Harvard actually outshot Fairfield by a two-to-one margin but couldn’t find the net, losing 7-6.
“Their goalie played very well,” said tri-captain and defenseman Doug Kocis. “It’s a combination of that and us shooting very poorly.”
When the offense failed, the Crimson was stitched together by its defense—especially junior Tom Mikula, the sole returning defenseman and a second-team All-Ivy honoree.
Tenacity held the team together in its Ivy League opener against Penn, a seesaw match in which junior midfield-attack Sean Kane registered the winning shot with 21 seconds left for an 8-7 win.
Harvard crushed Quinnipiac, 9-4, before surrendering three consecutive goals in the final seconds of play to suffer a devastating 9-8 loss to Denver.
“The game was basically over,” Samuelson said. “It was hard to believe that we lost that game.”
The loss to the Pioneers sent Harvard spiraling into a four-game losing streak, starting with a crippling 16-6 loss to No. 9 Cornell. Harvard then lost all steam, as it was trampled in its next game against Brown. Unable to score until the third period, the Crimson lost 12-3. Nor would the team be able to tidy up the wreckage of its season, as it was dismissed from Ivy contention by a crushing 12-4 loss to Princeton. Yet the fates smiled again on Harvard, if only briefly.
Yale had the chance to deal the Crimson a death blow: Harvard was coming off two blowout losses, and the Bulldogs were ranked No. 16 in the nation.
But the Crimson had reached its breaking point. When its New Haven rivals came to Cambridge, Harvard rebounded. The Crimson fired off an eight-goal streak that sealed a win over Yale, 11-4. The momentum failed to resuscitate the squad, though, as it couldn’t find a similar surge against UMass and Hofstra, losing both games 8-5 and 11-5, respectively. Harvard’s hopes to end the season on a high note went unrealized, as it dropped its final game against Dartmouth 10-7.
If there was a bright spot in the season, it was the Crimson’s youth. Scholl and Widbin didn’t play like the rookies they were. Each finished with 23 total points for the season to lead the team and Scholl was first in goals scored, with 20. Freshman Evan O’Donnell spent the lion’s share of time in goal, totaling 132 saves in 738 minutes and starting 13 games.
—Staff writer Abigail M. Baird can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.