The scene outside Harvard Stadium before Friday night’s Harvard-Duke lacrosse game was something that Crimson lacrosse had never seen before.
Free food, tailgating, and thousands of UC-purchased shirts littered the outskirts of the field, all part of an effort to act on the hype that had surrounded this matchup since Harvard upset the Blue Devils in its 2009 season opener, 9-6.
But while the Crimson (5-3, 1-1 Ivy) was enjoying the sensation surrounding the pregame festivities, Duke was all business, all night, leading it to a 14-5 win.
The Blue Devils (8-3, 0-2 ACC) scored five goals in less than five minutes to open the contest, making sure the game was over before the lingering tailgaters even found a place to sit. Duke added three more goals before the first quarter ended, leaving a Harvard crowd of more than 13,000 in shock that the Blue Devils had more goals—eight—than the Crimson had shots—five—in the first quarter alone.
The first quarter was all she wrote for Harvard, as Duke would dominate ball control throughout the night.
“[Duke’s] execution was great, and they came out ready to play,” Crimson coach John Tillman said. “I didn’t want us to play the scoreboard, and I think our guys really came together and rallied around the fact that it wasn’t going well, which is a good sign for the future.”
Despite the Blue Devils’ dominating first quarter, Harvard refused to cave in and simply hand over an easy victory. After freshman Peter Schwartz rifled one past Duke’s Dan Wigrizer for the first goal of his career, junior Dean Gibbons spun right around defenseman Jason Orlando and bounced a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal to bring the deficit to 9-2.
Flashes of the Crimson’s incredible comeback from six down against Dartmouth last weekend were smothered when the Blue Devils scored the next three goals to take a 12-2 lead. Sophomore Jeff Cohen found co-captain Travis Burr from behind the net for an easy goal to give Harvard a little bit of momentum, but the squad headed into halftime down, 12-3.
Duke was in complete command of the second half, content to work the ball slowly and rely on its defense to prevent the Crimson from developing any momentum.
For the Blue Devils, it was one of their most complete games of the season. Three players had multiple goals by the end of the first quarter, and as a team, Duke outshot Harvard, 49-32. Throughout the game, the Blue Devils handily dominated possession, due in large part to winning 14 of the 21 faceoffs. The Crimson lacked many opportunities to create turnovers, as Duke was an astounding 15-for-15 on clear attempts.
“It wasn’t really anything we could put our finger on,” junior midfielder Andrew Parchman said. “On this day, Duke was just better than us. It was a disappointment that we lost, but it’s nothing to bow our heads about. We just have to come out next time and play 60 minutes.”
Although the eight goals allowed in the first quarter makes it hard to believe, Harvard’s most valuable player in the game was arguably freshman goalie Harry Krieger.
A week after allowing 11 goals and saving only three shots against Dartmouth, Krieger settled after the first and recorded a career-high 17 saves in the contest.
“Harry could’ve easily folded his tent, but that’s not Harry...he’s a competitor,” Tillman said. “If things aren’t going well, he’s going to fight to turn things around. Once he started making some saves, I really think he inspired the guys around him to play.”
While the loss certainly comes as a disappointment to the Crimson, it doesn’t affect the conference standings that will ultimately determine Harvard’s tournament chances. After Ivy League favorite Cornell was upset by Dartmouth over the weekend, the team is aware that anything can happen the rest of the way.
“The most important thing for us right now is to keep coaching our guys, keep trying to make them better, and making sure they know we improve as a team,” Tillman said. “I know they’ll stay together, and I’m sure we’ll come out ready to play much better next week.”
—Staff writer Colin Whelehan can be reached at email@example.com.
Blue Devils Loom Large
Harvard Fails to Contain Duke In Front of Large CrowdThe Blue Devils scored five goals in less than five minutes to open the contest, making sure the game was over before those lingering fans who went back for seconds at the Redbones booth even found a place to sit. Duke added three more goals before the first quarter ended, leaving a Harvard crowd of more than 13,000 in shock that the Blue Devils had more goals—eight—than the Crimson had shots—five—in the first quarter alone.
SIDEBAR: Slow Starts Hold Back Crimson This YearA record number of lacrosse fans turned out Friday night for the men’s lacrosse game against the Duke Blue Devils. Unfortunately, anyone who stayed an extra five or 10 minutes at the tailgate before coming in to watch the game missed the bulk of the action.
Seven Third-Quarter Goals Lift Duke Over Men's Lacrosse
Men's Lacrosse Faces Big Test in DukeA shot at immediate redemption arrives on Saturday night for the Harvard men’s lacrosse team. After a disappointing 16-7 loss to Albany on Tuesday night—the program’s worst defeat since 2011—the Crimson will face off against No. 10/12 Duke at 7 p.m. at Soldiers Field Stadium.
Men's Lacrosse Can't Hold On, Loses to Duke, 12-11The Harvard men’s lacrosse team (4-4, 1-1 Ivy) hosted perennial powerhouse Duke (7-4, 1-1 ACC) on Soldiers Field Saturday night. The Crimson came into the game unranked against the No. 10 Blue Devils, but stayed with its opponents before eventually falling at the end, 12-11.