Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line
At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions
Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists
‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam
‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6
Raucous cheers erupted from the 2,455 spectators around Jordan Field Saturday afternoon as the Harvard men’s lacrosse team defended its home turf against No. 4 Cornell in a huge 10-8 upset. The underdog team played lockdown defense and the stellar performance was not lost on viewers as the win resulted in a sweep of the weekly Ivy League honors. Leader and junior goalie Christian Barnard was named the Ivy League Player of the Week for his standout performance in cage with a 66% save rate, while first-year attackman Teddy Malone was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for his performances against both Dartmouth and Cornell.
Cornell came out hot, taking a three-goal lead within the first few minutes of play in the first quarter. A wise timeout by head coach Gerry Byrne helped to reset the team and allowed it to regroup and claw back two goals to narrow the gap to one at the end of the first. The timeout was critical in getting the squad back in the game as Cornell came out fast, pushing Harvard to play with more speed and intensity than it has had all season. The Big Red was able to go up initially because its faceoff unit capitalized on the Crimson’s weakness at the faceoff, winning possession on the first three faceoffs. Cornell was able to strike on the faceoff throughout the game, winning sixteen of the 22 takes, which gave it more possession time on the offensive end and put more pressure on Barnard and the defense to come up with big stops.
“They are a high-energy, high-skill team, and you can’t meet it, you have to exceed it. So, I challenged our guys in the locker room before to be great,” Byrne said. “You know that you’re going to be imperfect, so you’ve got to move through mistakes, which is a good life lesson, and we just needed to compete with them.”
“They are one of the most competitive teams, high-energy, ferocious, physical teams, and we had to meet it and exceed it,” continued Byrne. “I think that when we were playing well – which was a lot of that game – we did that.”
Despite Cornell’s attacking phenom junior C.J. Kirst scoring the first goal for the Big Red, sophomore defender Collin Bergstrom was able to mitigate that threat on the defensive end and keep him relatively quiet throughout the game. This was not an easy feat, as Kirst is currently ranked as the highest-scoring attackman in the country with 43 goals on the season. He is also the seventh-highest point-scorer, with an additional nine points coming from assists.
“C.J. Kirst is one of the best players in the country, and Collin Bergstrom guarded him,” Byrne said. “Even though he was 4-1 and scored a couple [of] unsettled goals, he did a tremendous job guarding him. When we needed to support him with help, our guys did a great job doing that – and Barnard made the saves that we know he can make”
Sophomore defender Tommy Martinson and first-year defender Charlie Muller were part of the defensive unit that held the 28th most efficient offense in the nation — averaging 14.56 goals per game — to only 8 goals. This success stemmed from lock-down one-on-one defense as well as quick slides, and even quicker recovery slides, that slowed down Cornell’s ball movement and kept its offense from being able to find open attackers on the backside. The team held Cornell to a 16.3% efficiency rate, allowing for just 8 goals on 49 possessions. The team’s success sliding was also apparent in shutting down the Big Red’s man-up play, not allowing the team to score on its sole opportunity.
“I think we put it all together today. The offense was scoring goals, and the defense was playing very well,” Barnard stated. “They have one of the best players in the country in C.J. Kirst and I think that we did a really good job trying to minimize him. You can’t contain him completely, but you [have to] minimize his plays — I think our defense did an extraordinary job of that.”
Success on the defensive end translated to success on both sides of the field. Cornell was able to clear on all of its attempts, but the ferocious Crimson ride held Cornell to the end of its allotted twenty seconds in clearing over the fifty, which caused many of Cornell’s offensive possessions to wind down to under ten seconds. Because they took longer in clearing, Cornell’s substitution game was not as efficient and Harvard had an easier time locking down and stopping the fast break, which allowed the defensive to set up and make Cornell force shots with just a few seconds left on the clock. Harvard took advantage of these caused turnovers, and two defensive middies, sophomore Ray Dearth and senior Chase Yager found success in stripping their players, securing the ground ball, and going coast-to-coast for fast-break goals.
Offensive decision-making will be something the Crimson squad will look to improve on going into its next contest against UPenn. The team had trouble setting down for the first few minutes of play which caused lapses in judgment in shot selection. Of the team’s 47 shots, only 24 were on goal. This was due to the offense looking to play a much faster-style game to find gaps in the Cornell defense, but the result was that the attackers and middies were stuffed either by senior Cornell goalie Chayse Ierlan or by defenders who ate shots as they stepped out to act as the slide or second slide. Despite this miscommunication, the offense appeared much stronger in playing a fast yet deliberate style of sets. Sophomore Andrew Perry was a standout on that end of the field, notching three goals and an assist. The depth of the Crimson attack was revealed as something to laud against Cornell, with eight different Harvard players tallying goals.
“Our offense moved the ball a lot quicker, we were in better spots, and we saw a lot of ways to improve down there. It wasn’t our best, but we’ll take it,” Perry commented. “Our defense played extremely well and kept getting us the ball which allowed us to capitalize. Great team win, and one to build on going into Penn next weekend.”
The Ivy League is extremely competitive and the squad’s next matchup against UPenn won’t be any easier than the game against Cornell. UPenn is currently ranked No. 18 in the nation, dropping four spots this week due to a 12-11 loss to Brown, a team that Harvard beat at the beginning of the season in an impressive overtime battle. Penn will be a different beast for the Crimson to tackle as the Quakers are notorious for recruiting players based on size and athleticism, which is different from Cornell which was a slippery and crafty offense.
“We have Penn next, and we are hoping for another great crowd. They are a different team — Penn’s midfielders are gigantic, so it’s going to be a physical battle at the midfield,” Byrne noted. “Guarding number 27 and number 2 today will give us some knowledge and insight into how to do that”
Harvard takes on UPenn Saturday at 12:00 p.m. on Jordan Field. The game will also be streamed live on ESPN+. Following the men’s game, the women’s lacrosse team will battle against No. 16 Yale at 3:30 p.m. in a game that not only honors the most historic rivalry in the Ancient Eight but will honor sophomore defender Grace Taylor’s fight against cancer. The team looks to highlight the efforts of the Mass General Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Program, a program that seeks to empower young adults suffering from cancer through community building and social opportunities.
Harvard women’s lacrosse’s honoring of Taylor’s cancer battle emphasizes its tight-knit and supportive community. While the games are competitive and each team looks to battle for the NCAA Championship trophy at the end of the season, the relationships created and the respect players have for their peers make the community special.
Going into this weekend, the focus for both teams will be to upset their opponents as they gear up for a stretch of competitive Ivy League games. The Crimson squads will look to string together four solid quarters of play on both ends of the field to come out victorious.
“It’s always tough in our league, we have the best teams in the country so we need to be ready to prepare and battle every single game,” Perry said. “Anybody can win on any day, so as long as we are prepared and doing what we need to do I think we have a good shot”
— Staff writer Katharine A. Forst can be reached at email@example.com.
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.