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Men’s Lax Rebounds Against Dartmouth 13-7

The Harvard men's lacrosse team rebounded with a 13-7 victory against Dartmouth on Saturday.
The Harvard men's lacrosse team rebounded with a 13-7 victory against Dartmouth on Saturday. By Dylan J. Goodman
By Katharine Forst, Crimson Staff Writer

After a bit of a midseason slump, the No. 16 Harvard men’s lacrosse team (7-3, 1-2 Ivy) bounced back in a home-field victory against Dartmouth, 13-7. Currently ranked fifth in the Ivy League, the game against the Big Green was a must-win matchup in the squad’s quest for a bid in the postseason tournament.

In what was a defensive masterpiece for Frisbie Family Head Coach Gerry Byrne’s team, which only allowed Dartmouth a mere seven goals throughout 60 minutes of play, the squad came together to implement what it learned from its three preceding opponents: Yale, Princeton, and UVA.

Winning this game against the Big Green was crucial, as Harvard’s loss to the program last season proved to be the nail in the coffin that kept it from postseason glory. That loss also marked Dartmouth’s first victory in the Ivy League since 2015; the game broke a 35-game drought for the Big Green within the Ancient Eight. However, Byrne’s squad was up to the challenge this time and was able to decisively put its opponent to rest.

In part, the team’s competitiveness during the 2024 campaign has stemmed from what seems to be a much more mature roster that has actively stepped up into leadership positions. While many of the starters remain consistent from last year, the maturity across the field has made the team much more confident and capable in difficult situations. Junior defender and captain Collin Bergstrom stepped up to lead the defense, posting a monstrous day with five caused turnovers and three ground balls. Joined on the line by junior Martin Nelson – who snagged five ground balls and forced two turnovers – and junior Logan Darrin – who picked up two ground balls and forced one turnover as well – the team played a cohesive game of slide and recover defense.

“It always starts with playing good on ball defense, and I think as a team we were sliding and recovering at a really high rate, and making great decisions both on ball and off ball,” Bergstrom said. “We were being patient and just taking what they gave to us.”

Similarly to the rest of the season, the short-stick defensive middies proved vital to that unit. Junior captain Andrew O’Berry tallied one goal, four ground balls and a caused turnover. The McLean, Va. native was crucial on the wing in securing scrum ground balls after 50-50 face offs, an area in which the Crimson continues to struggle. Junior FOGO Andrew DeGennaro went 5-15 on the day and was relieved by sophomore Matt Barraco, who fared a bit better (4-9) against the Big Green’s Mitchell Meyers, who went 15-21 for his takes. The duo of DeGennaro and Barraco was only able to win possession on 37 percent of its draws.

Also on the wing were senior LSM Greg Campisi and junior SSDM Ray Dearth, both of whom continue to prove reliable as the season progresses. Sophomore LSM Sean Jordan and sophomore SSDM Finn Jensen also contributed defensively, each of the middies adding one CTO. Their lockdown play was best noted between the fifties, where the squad was able to hold Dartmouth to just 18-25 clear attempts, a statistic that most definitely catalyzed the New Hampshire program’s defeat. On the day, Harvard tallied a total 14 CTOs, which added to the team’s possession time and helped to shift momentum back to the offense despite the skewed faceoff statistic.

The attacking lines proved lethal, with junior captain Sam King showing his offensive prowess with three goals, four assists and six ground balls. The Gilman product currently ranks second in the nation with sixty points, trailing behind Syracuse’s standout attackman Joey Spallina. Junior middie Miles Botkiss also posted a hat trick, finding his rhythm against a Dartmouth defense that was unable to stop his lethal outside shot. Senior Graham Blake continued to showcase his craftiness in the fan, sending the ball past goalie Mason Morel twice. Sophomore middies Logan Ip and John Aurandt IV each added a goal, alongside junior middie Lucas Hilsenrath and freshman attackman Jack Speidell.

“I think we hit singles, moved the ball, no one was selfish, we took good shots and worked for the best one,” freshman middie Jack Petersen said. “Nothing was rushed, we just worked really well together.”

Sophomore attackman Teddy Malone was relatively quiet on Saturday, unable to work past his matchup to send one into the back of the net. He was able to find success as a facilitator, though, shifting from his typical role into more of a facilitating position behind the cage. This change allowed King to find space at the top of the arc, playing in more of a high attack position which proved successful against the Big Green. Another player who stepped up in his role was Petersen, who cracked the starting lineup after freshman middie Jackson Greene was injured before the game last week. Petersen rose to the occasion, notching two assists.

The attack has been consistently generating more shots in the back half of the season, which has allowed it to capitalize on its possession time. The offense recorded 47 shots on the day, a few of which hit pipes during key moments, stilting the attacking momentum. The team currently ranks third in shot percentage, a testament to its maturity in shot selection. Play, on that note, started off quickly for the home team, with O’Berry scoring on a fast break attempt off the faceoff twelve seconds after the first whistle. Ip added another tally just 18 seconds after the junior, racing Harvard off to what would seem to be an unstoppable start.

However, Dartmouth clinched the next goal to stifle momentum, and play would remain relatively even throughout the first. While Harvard never dropped the lead to the visitor, and seemed in control of the pace of play, the lead was never particularly large, and the Crimson starters remained suited up for the entire hour.

The bench went into the locker room with a decisive 7-3 lead, but unlike against UVA, the team did not take its foot off the gas pedal. Blake set the tone for the afternoon, scoring with just seven seconds left on the clock to end the first 30 minutes of play. Aurandt started the play from the left wing, driving down the alley to hit King at X. King, with the clock winding down from 14, brought the ball up to the left elbow where he made a shifty right-to-left split dodge that drew the quick slide from the adjacent defender. King kept his head up and noticed that the cross-crease defender had prematurely left Blake on the opposite side of the doorstep, eager to make the superhero play on the slide, which allowed him to launch the ball across the fan to Blake in a risky pass. The senior kept his cool, leaping into the air to catch the ball and quickstick it past Morel. The crowd went nuts as Blake celebrated, fistpumping as he was embraced by his teammates. ESPN announcer Adam Pascal lauded King’s vision, likening his pass to “Jedi stuff.”

The squad will look to build on its success this weekend against UPenn.
The squad will look to build on its success this weekend against UPenn. By Dylan J. Goodman

It is those seemingly extra plays that define the mentality of this season’s team. After watching the squad perform for the past two seasons, the way in which it has continued to go toe-in-toe with the best programs in the nation is a testament to its desire to compete and succeed in fights for every ground ball, last second buzzer-beater, and race to drop back into the 10-man ride.

While it did not play a perfect game against Dartmouth, turning the ball over 14 times and going about 90 percent on its clearing percentage, the drive to win was evident, as it fought to succeed in its revenge game. The squad currently ranks as the sixth most productive clearing team in the nation, which comes down to its key communication and patience in utilizing the 20 seconds allotted to getting the ball over the midline.

The second half was markedly slower for the team than the first, with Harvard beating out the Big Green 4-2 in the third and tying the Hannover team 2-2 in the final fifteen minutes. Something that allowed it to keep its margins throughout was its adherence to clean defensive play. The Crimson defense plays an overtly aggressive style that can sometimes run it into trouble with unnecessary flags that lead to man-down situations. However, both Byrne’s bench and Dartmouth played totally clean games that saw neither squad gain a man-up advantage.

When asked about what it needs to work on heading into its next matchup, Petersen said that the squad needs to “keep on taking our time and work our way through possessions. We can get good shots easily, but working for great ones is what we are really trying to do.”

“I think defending transition is always a challenge and is something that we are always trying to get better at while working during the week,” Bergstrom added. “It really starts with just getting in the hole and working up the field, but I think we are a solid six-on-six team, so when we can force teams into that kind of game it’s to our advantage.”

While the win against the Big Green lifted Harvard out of its slump, it is imperative that the team continue building on that momentum as it enters a challenging last set of matchups against league opponents. The squad will hit the road the next two weekends as it faces off against No. 14 UPenn and No. 8 Cornell before welcoming Brown for its final game of the season.

The Crimson will head to Philadelphia on Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. matchup against UPenn. The Quakers clinched three crucial league victories against Brown, Dartmouth, and Cornell to start their Ivy League season, but are coming off a 12-9 loss to No. 9 Yale. As such, Harvard will need to bring its competitiveness to quell a UPenn team gunning to redeem itself. The highly-contested matchup will also be streamed live on ESPN+.

—Staff writer Katharine A. Forst can be reached at

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