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The men’s lacrosse team’s six-game winning streak was brought to a halt by Cornell on Saturday, when the Crimson lost to the Big Red 17-9.
Play on both ends of the field was not up to Harvard’s usual crisp and clean caliber. The offense looked congested and forced its shots. On the other side, the defense played locked-down for the first quarter, keeping the score even at 1-1, but let up by the second and began missing slides and miscommunicating in the middle.
The attack did best when moving the ball quickly and with a purpose. The team only scored once in the first half, with the initial strike coming from senior attacker Austin Madronic with 2:43 left in the first quarter. After this, Cornell went on a nine-goal stretch to break open a 10-1 lead. The Crimson finally broke this run in the third when first-year midfielder Joe Dowling scored, fostering a bit of momentum to pull Harvard back into action.
Hoping to continue its rally, the Crimson scored three more goals in the third quarter; Madronic, senior midfielder Charlie Olmert, and junior attacker Hayden Cheek all contributed. However, this was not enough to complete the comeback, even with two-goal performances by first-year midfielders Miles Botkiss and Andrew Perry in the fourth.
“It wasn’t our best game, but our 10 man ride put a lot of pressure on them,” Cheek said. “As we prepare for Penn, we need to focus on clearing as well as playing with urgency on offense.”
Harvard did a solid job on its ride, only allowing Cornell to clear 14 out of its 22 takes. On the flip side, clearing was an apparent point of weakness for the Crimson, as it struggled to get the ball over the 50 against Cornell’s tight 10 man ride. Harvard went 18 for 24 on the day.
“I think we played really hard and competed, but we failed to execute a lot of things from an Xs and Os perspective,” senior fogo Steven Cuccurullo said. “We lost the ground ball battle which led to a possession disadvantage. Moving forward I expect us to continue to work hard and compete, but will need to improve on groundballs and clearing in order to win.”
Harvard went just 11 for 29 on the face off, with senior Kyle Massimilian going 4 for 9 and senior Steven Cuccurullo clamping 7 of his 18 takes. The wings played solidly, with sophomore LSM Greg Campisi scooping up 3 ground balls.
The team’s strong first-quarter defense was led by senior goalie Kyle Mullin. Throughout the game, Mullin was the backbone of the unit, boasting 17 saves on the day. On the other side of the field, Cornell’s senior goalie Chayse Ierlan turned in a strong performance as well, saving 12 Crimson shots. Mullin was flanked by first-year defenders Collin Bergstrom and Tommy Martinson, as well as junior Chase Strupp. The unit had great communication in the early stages, but began to weaken in its rotations as Cornell gained more momentum, which left Cornell players open up top for the skip passes, as well as cutting through the middle.
“We had a tough time clearing against their 10 man ride, but I think we’ll be better prepared in that aspect this weekend,” Bergstrom noted. “It’s definitely something that we’re going to be focusing on in practice.”
The team will look to tighten up on the clear, defensive slides, as well as being patient and looking for clean takes on offense as it prepares for its next game Saturday against Penn. Harvard will battle the Quakers in Philadelphia at 3:30 p.m. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.
–Staff writer Katharine Forst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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