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The scene was set for a decisive fourth frame on Saturday afternoon at Soldiers Field Lacrosse Stadium. After trading blows for three quarters, the Harvard men's lacrosse team entered the game’s final 15 minutes clinging to a 7-6 lead over Georgetown. And as it had done all game long, the Crimson defense held strong. Ten minutes passed with no scoring from either side, until junior attackman Peter Schwartz fired a shot from straight-on to give his team a two-goal cushion. The Hoyas (2-2) had no answer in the waning minutes and Harvard (2-2) walked off with the 8-6 victory.
The Crimson got big performances from Shwartz, who tallied two goals, as well as junior midfielder Daniel Eipp, who added one goal to go along with three assists. But perhaps the strongest play on the afternoon came from senior goalkeeper Harry Krieger, who anchored a stifling defensive performance for Harvard with twice as many saves (12) as goals allowed (6).
“The defense has been strong this year but it was exceptional today,” Crimson coach Chris Wojcik said. “Georgetown is an excellent team and our D was on…as was as our goaltender.”
After scoring three unanswered goals in the second frame, Harvard found itself on the opposite end of the equation to begin the third quarter. A trio of Georgetown scores allowed the Hoyas to slice into the Crimson lead and eventually claim the advantage.
The first of those goals came unassisted from Georgetown sophomore midfielder Charles McCormick at the 12:30 mark. Two minutes later, the Hoyas parlayed a save from goalkeeper Jake Haley into a break on the other end, with Riley O’Connor eventually finding himself alone in front of the net, where he beat Krieger to tie the game at four.
The Georgetown momentum continued as senior attackman Zac Guy took the lead for his squad just a minute later on a top-shelf shot from the left flank.
But that momentum soon turned. Eipp found midfielder Ryan Stevens in front of the net, and the senior maneuvered through traffic and finished to bring Harvard level with 7:30 to play in the third frame. Eipp continued to make plays for the Crimson, scoring a goal of his own a minute later to give Harvard a one-goal advantage.
“We had great efforts on both offense and defense today,” Eipp said. “It was a complete team effort.”
Eipp earned his third assist of the game soon after, as he found freshman attackman Devin Dwyer streaking to the goal. Dwyer’s score gave the Crimson a two-goal lead with two minutes to play in the quarter, but that lead was cut to one just moments later by sophomore attackman Riley O’Connor, setting the stage for the deciding final frame.
“I was really happy that our guys came to play and really wanted this game,” Wojcik said.
The first half was a defensive battle, with the two sides combining for just six goals. The game opened with high energy but little scoring, despite the fact that each side had its early chances. It wasn’t until the six-minute mark that Hoyas senior attackman Brian Casey broke the stalemate with a man-up, unassisted goal—his eighth of the young season.
But Harvard broke through soon after. Freshman attackman Sean McDonagh, beginning from the top of the box, streaked by his defender from left to right and fired a shot that found its way under the stick of Georgetown sophomore goalkeeper Jake Haley.
The 1-1 tie would be short-lived, however. The Hoyas won the ensuing faceoff and Casey, finding himself behind the Crimson net, wrapped around and fired a shot past Krieger. Both defenses held strong for the remainder of the quarter.
The second frame was all Harvard. One play after firing a shot over the Georgetown net, junior attackman Peter Schwartz took a pass from freshman attackman Devin Dwyer and bounced a shot into the back of the net, knotting the score at two with just under 13 minutes to play in the frame.
The home squad tacked on another seconds later. Following a Georgetown turnover on the ensuing faceoff, the Crimson carried the ball through the midfield before senior midfielder Alex White found junior attackman Carl Zimmerman, who finished from close range to give Harvard its first lead of the afternoon.
The two teams traded shots for the next few minutes, with neither breaking through until the waning seconds of the period, when Eipp faked out his defender at the top of the box, drew the defense towards him, and found captain Jason Gonos, who beat the goalkeeper from close range to send the Crimson into the half leading, 4-2.
Harvard may have benefited from a little additional home-field advantage in the form of sub-40 degree temperatures throughout the game.
“We were out here playing in the hail a few days ago,” Eipp said. “It definitely gives us some additional toughness on days like today.”
—Staff writer James M. Acer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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