Sophomore Thriving, Leading Lax Attack

Cohen the Distance
Meredith H. Keffer

Sophomore Jeff Cohen, shown here in earlier action, has recorded a point in every game since arriving at Harvard. This year, Cohen and junior Dean Gibbons are tied for the team-lead in goals with 25.

Whoever coined the term “sophomore slump” hadn’t seen Jeff Cohen play in his second season for the Harvard lacrosse team.

The sophomore has scored 25 goals on the year, currently tied for first on the team with junior attackman Dean Gibbons. He also holds an impressive streak: scoring at least one point in each game of his career. The streak, which has reached 24 games, is the 14th longest of its kind in the nation, and, as if that wasn’t impressive enough, Cohen has scored a total 59 points and 14 assists over the stretch, more than any other Crimson player.

“I’m proud of the success I’ve had,” Cohen said. “It’s just a testament to the consistency I have and to the team.”

Although the number of goals Cohen has scored thus far falls short of the 34 he tallied his freshman year, this one statistic does not describe how Cohen has improved his own game and helped his teammates play better. Already, the sophomore has eight assists on the season, two more than last year, and he has strived to become a more complete player.

“I’ve tried to focus on a lot of little things this season,” Cohen reflected, when asked how he has developed as a player his sophomore year. “I haven’t just been focusing on scoring, but also on riding better, picking up more grounds balls, and leadership on the team.”


Seeing the last name Cohen on the Harvard lacrosse roster has become all too familiar this decade. Cohen’s two older brothers, Steven and Greg, played for the Crimson and graduated in 2006 and 2007. Jeff has looked to his brothers for inspiration throughout the years, especially when he was just getting his start.

“Both of his older brothers played, so he was always following in their footsteps,” his dad, Phil Cohen, said. “He started at a very young age when he was five years old. He was always the ball boy or water boy for the teams they were on. He would always try to get in there and play ball with them and be on their level, but obviously he couldn’t at such a young age.”

The Cohen clan has created a near dynasty on the field, producing three leading scorers in less than a decade. It wasn’t a surprise then that Jeff came to Harvard just two years after the younger of his two older brothers graduated.

“I was looking at a lot of the Ivies,” Cohen said. “Harvard stood out for me because my two older brothers went there, and it is respected for its academics.”

The Syosset, N.Y., native got his chance to shine for the Crimson in the first game of his freshman season when Cohen helped lift the lacrosse squad to a 9-6 victory against Duke on the Blue Devils’ own turf. Netting the first goal of his career, Cohen began his points streak which continues today.

“It was a great feeling,” Cohen remembered. “I had been looking forward to playing for Harvard since my oldest brother, Steven, came in 2002.”

Cohen has been following in his brothers’ footsteps, but he’s also blazing his own trail on the field. He’s become more of an all-around player, helping his teammates around him improve.

“He’s become a much better athlete as he’s become older, but he’s also matured as a player and teammate,” Phil Cohen said. “In high school, he was the top dog on the team, but it’s just great to see how he’s matured as a player and become part of the team, not just an individual.”

With this new attitude, Cohen and the Crimson’s other leading scorers have been working together and increased their total number of goals scored. Gibbons is tied with Cohen for the team-lead this season with 25 goals, followed by sophomore attackman Kevin Vaughan with 15 and sophomore midfielder Terry White with 13—all of which are improvements over last season.

But that’s not to suggest that Cohen doesn’t benefit from his teammates as well. Their success has inspired him to keep pushing himself and become a better player.


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