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Amidst the dramatic backdrop of rain and hail, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team got into a frantic, back-and-forth shootout against the No. 10/9 University of Albany. In a game that showcased the potent offensive attacks of both teams, the Crimson (4-4, 0-2 Ivy) led the Great Danes (5-1, 2-0 AE) for the entirety of the first half before the Albany offense took control to end the game Wednesday night at Soldier Field lacrosse stadium. Although Albany put the game away late in the fourth quarter, the Crimson battled to close the goal difference to a respectable score of 21-18 at the final whistle.
Although the Great Danes ended Harvard’s unblemished 3-0 record at home at Soldiers Field Lacrosse Stadium, the final score was still considered a victory compared to the previous meetings between the two teams – the Crimson fell to Albany 8-14 last season.
“We definitely prepared to play against those guys and we did a very good job,” said junior goalkeeper Bryan Moore. “ We did execute our game plan, [but] he (Albany attackman Lyle Thompson) and their whole team is just very good. ”
Thompson – the reigning Co-Tewarraton Trophy and Turnbull Award winner and a player for the Great Danes – has been recently named a midseason All-American and racked up 24 shots and 9 successful goals in this game alone.
“Obviously he’s [Thompson] as good as there is out there and as good as we’ve ever seen,” said Harvard coach Chris Wojcik ‘96. “We had a number of different things that we tried but he did a great job against us.”
Although the Crimson put up a valiant fight, Albany dominated on the ground, especially in the third and fourth quarter, as the Great Danes secured a 19-9 and 14-8 advantage in groundballs. Albany also out-shot Harvard 57-39 while claiming 24 of the 42 face-offs.
“We wound up being behind in the face-offs and for a while during that game it was whoever won the face-off was going to score,” said Wojcik. “You give a great team that many chances on offense, they’re tough to stuff. If you give them second chances, they’re going to hurt you.”
Although Thompson and the Great Danes put on an incredible offensive display, the Crimson offense did not disappoint either. Harvard started the game off by scoring two goals within 15 seconds of each other. Freshman attackman Tim Edmonds and junior midfielder Michel Keegan netted two unassisted scores for the Crimson’s first two tallies of the game. Later in the first quarter, freshman midfielder Joe Lang stormed past two defenders to increase Harvard’s lead, while junior midfielder Ian Ardrey stretched the scoring gap to 4-1 with a close range goal.
Albany would return each Crimson goal with markers of its own all throughout the second quarter but Harvard clung to its lead throughout the first half with standout athletic performances. Junior attackman Will Walker managed to find the back of the Albany net despite being knocked to the ground in the front of the goal; this was closely followed by Edmonds finding a gap in the defense after a run down mid-field and netting in an un-assisted seventh goal even though the Crimson was playing a man-down.
The second half saw Albany take the lead for the first time with the score at 10-9 but Harvard continued to score on fast transitions. The Crimson opened the fourth quarter with a similar performance as in the first: with two players netting goals within a few seconds of each other. One goal was scored directly from face-off with Keegan slicing through the defense and slotting in Harvard’s second goal of the final quarter. Even though the Crimson had bursts of momentum, it ultimately was unable to shrink the gap in the score.
“We went out against a very, very solid team and put up 18 goals – offensively that’s great,” said Moore. “A lot of guys enjoyed playing today and [we] didn’t feel like we were under a lot of pressure…like we have been in the past couple of games. Now we get to take a step back…to prepare for Cornell, reset our minds and then close out our Ivy stretch.”
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