After dropping a heartbreaker at Cornell last weekend, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team rebounded yesterday, posting a strong performance at Quinnipiac.
The Crimson (7-4, 1-2 Ivy) jumped out to an early lead, but the Bobcats (4-5, 2-0 NEC) never fell far behind. It wasn’t until the second half, when Harvard outscored Quinnipiac 10-5, that it was able to pull away and win the game, 14-7.
“This game was very important for us,” said Crimson junior attackman Jeff Cohen. “We had lost three of our last four, so it was important for us to get on the right track going into the final Ivy League games.”
Cohen led all goal scorers with three goals. Captain Dean Gibbons also had a solid outing, dishing out three assists to go with one goal.
“Dean’s our leader,” Cohen said. “He’s having an unbelievable season, and he’s always able to dish off great passes.”
Despite being hit with two early penalties, Harvard was able to put enough pressure on the ball to keep the Bobcats from capitalizing on the extra-man opportunities. When the Crimson’s penalties had finally expired, Gibbons took advantage of an offside call against Quinnipiac and scored the initial goal of the game off an assist from sophomore midfielder Ryan Stevens.
Bobcats senior attackman Jack Oppenheimer tied the game less than two minutes later, but Harvard countered with two goals from seniors Matt Hull and Francis Ellis, respectively, to push the score to 3-1 at the end of the first frame.
Both teams had offensive opportunities in the second quarter, but neither was able to fully take advantage, only scoring two combined goals off of 13 shots. Quinnipiac midfielder Dylan Webster scored at 10:24 to pull the Bobcats within one.
Neither team scored again until freshman forward Daniel Eipp hit the back of the net with 2:47 left to put the Crimson up 4-2 at halftime.
Quinnipiac started the second half with a goal from senior midfielder Billy Alessi just 12 seconds into the period. But Harvard’s offense quickly responded, as Cohen and Hull scored off a Gibbons assist at 11:39 and 9:15, respectively.
Sensing the Crimson’s eagerness to pull away, the Bobcats turned up their offensive pressure. A couple of shots from Quinnipiac players went wide until senior midfielder Kevin Kelly finally tallied a point for the Bobcats, making the score 6-4.
From then on, Harvard clamped down on defense and attacked the goal with greater intensity, resulting in a 6-0 run that lasted through half of the final period.
Stevens started the stretch with his only goal of the game just 20 seconds after Kelly had scored. Less than a minute later, Eipp scored again off Gibbons’ third assist of the day. Sophomore midfielder Alex White joined in the action with a goal of his own just 40 seconds later.
Within a span of 90 seconds, the Crimson offense had blown the game open, giving itself a five-goal lead heading into the last period.
But the Crimson wasn’t ready to stop there. Cohen put two more shots behind the Bobcats’ goalie in the beginning of the fourth. Harvard then scored a man-up tally on an own goal by Quinnipiac to go up 12-4.
Webster scored again for the Bobcats at 7:04. But that wasn’t enough to stop the Crimson’s momentum.
Goals by freshman attacker Carl Zimmerman and sophomore Jack Walker gave Harvard a commanding 14-5 lead with 4:31 left in the game. Quinnipiac scored twice in the closing minutes to make the final score 14-7.
“In the first half, our defense really kept us in the game,” Crimson coach Chris Wojcik said. “We struggled a little bit on offense. In the third quarter, we started to move the ball better and generated high-quality shots. I was very happy with how we scored 10 goals in the second half.”
The comfortable lead in the second half allowed every player on the Crimson’s roster to get in the game.
“The thing that I am most happy about is every single player on our roster played today,” Wojcik said. “Everyone has an important role on the team and we’re all one family. That’s what I’m most happy about.”