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Men's Lacrosse Falls to UVA 13-10

The Harvard men's lacrosse team fell to UVA 13-10.
The Harvard men's lacrosse team fell to UVA 13-10. By Dylan J. Goodman
By Katharine Forst, Crimson Staff Writer

The No. 16 Harvard men’s lacrosse team (6-3, 0-2 Ivy) dropped its second-consecutive game on Jordan Field, 13-10, to No. 2 University of Virginia on Saturday.

Despite controlling the majority of the low-scoring contest, the squad was unable to cling to its four-goal lead heading into the fourth, allowing a quick succession of seven goals that saw the Cavaliers head back to Charlottesville, VA victorious.

“Unfortunately, we had a significant possession disadvantage in the 4th quarter that allowed them to capitalize on our mistakes,” junior defenseman Logan Darrin said. “We missed a few first chance ground balls and failed to make pivotal stops when the shot clock was in single digits. You bet we will be working on minimizing these errors in preparation for a strong Dartmouth team this upcoming weekend.”

Sophomore FOGO Matt Barraco stepped up for the Crimson, going 11-18 on the day while filling in for senior FOGO Andrew DeGennaro, who struggled to hear the whistle as he went 0-4. Freshman Owen Umansky also saw time at the center X, securing possession for his team on one of his three attempts. The squad went 12-26 collectively against the visiting program, its increased win percentage one of the factors that propelled it to its lead in the second. Faceoffs dramatically turned in favor of the Cavaliers in the fourth, however, with UVA winning eight of nine. This increased possession time helped it stymie the bleeding and come out swinging in the lopsided fourth quarter.

“This is a final four team, and they are not going to go down without a fight,” said Frisbie Family Head Coach Gerry Byrne. “And they were able to win faceoffs and we weren’t. And we missed some ground balls that would have allowed us to clear the ball, and so we missed ground balls, and we missed passes, and we kind of fed some of their success.”

Despite UVA ranking fourth in the nation in goals with 153, for an average of 15.3 goals per game, Harvard Head Coach Gerry Byrne’s defensive squad proved lethal at locking down the talented Virginia offense for the first 45 minutes. Darrin found immense success in the fan, forcing three key turnovers. The Greenwich, CT native was joined on the line by junior defenseman Martin Nelson, who posted five CTOs and four ground balls, and senior LSM Greg Campisi, who also earned back possession time for the Crimson with three CTOs.

“It all comes down to executing our defensive game plan. Coach Byrne and Coach Grill did a really good job early in the week outlining out individual responsibilities as well as defensive expectations. We flew around in the first half playing to our strengths and held them to three goals at half,” Darrin said. “It all starts with loud and clear communication which is something Coach Bryne emphatically emphasizes. If we can play a full 60 minutes of lacrosse like we did in the first half then we should continue to see success on the defensive side of the field for the remainder of the season.”

SSDMs junior Ray Dearth, sophomore Owen Guest, and junior Andrew O’Berry contributed to the play in the middle of the field – which remained even between the two programs – with Harvard grittily besting the Cavaliers’ 41 ground balls with 44 of its own. Despite winning the 50-50 balls, both teams were guilty of controllable errors, with the home team and visitors posting 18 and 17 turnovers, respectively. Clears were less successful than normal for the Cambridge bench, as its successful clear rate fell to 84 percent. On the other hand, the team’s ride came out in full force. Byrne observed that a key goal going forward for the team is the intensity of its ten-man ride, which forced UVA to often utilize the entirety of its 20 seconds to clear on the shot clock, thereby shortening the defensive sets.

“Everybody guarded everybody, so we had to switch on some picks. And as a result, we were able to get them late into some possessions and cause some turnovers,” Byrne said.

The offensive lines for the Crimson generated more opportunities than in previous games, going close to even with Virginia in total shots. The attack made the most of its takes, landing 26 on cage, but UVA’s junior goalie Matthew Nunes was able to read a majority of the shots, posting an impressive 16 saves. The extra man unit continued to play well, finding the back of the net on two of its three power plays.

“We shared the ball, we were handling the ball cleanly, but once we started turning the ball over, and losing some contested ground balls, they were able to get some momentum,” Byrne said. “They were looking for something to spark them and they made some plays, but we also contributed by throwing the ball over our teammates’ heads and missing some 50-50 ground balls.”

Despite UVA finding twine about 50 seconds into the first quarter with an easy finish on the doorstep from attackman Payton Cormier, who received a feed from attackman Connor Shellenberger at X, sophomore middie Logan Ip equalized the score with a man up goal on an assist from junior middie Miles Botkiss. Ip contributed to the team’s second man up score, assisting senior attackman Graham Blake who buried his first goal of the afternoon in the third quarter. Blake, who played point, has been rotating on the man up line with junior attackman Liam Griffiths, who has notched five man up goals this season.

The squad will look to bounce back tomorrow in its game against Dar
The squad will look to bounce back tomorrow in its game against Dar By Dylan J. Goodman

The second quarter fell entirely in Harvard’s favor, with the Crimson racing ahead to a 5-2 lead following goals from freshman midfielders Jack Speidell and Jack Peterson – who scored his first collegiate goal during the contest – sophomore middie John Aurandt IV, junior attackman Sam King, and sophomore attackman Teddy Malone. The Crimson demonstrated the depth of its offensive lines, boasting eight different scorers, two of whom – Blake and Malone – tallied multiple goals.

Following the half-time break, UVA began to find its footing, clawing its way back into the contest as the quarter split evenly with each team notching three goals. The first two – both by Blake – put the Crimson up by five, and it seemed that momentum would continue to fall in favor of the home team. However, UVA stemmed the tide with three consecutive scores that narrowed the Crimson’s lead to a mere two goals. Malone seemingly set the team up for success as it entered the final quarter, giving his team a three-goal buffer to start the final fifteen minutes of play.

Despite holding what seemed to be a comfortable lead, the entire final period favored the Cavaliers. A long-stick goal from Campisi on a fastbreak play about a minute into play put the squad up by four, but the Crimson was unable to capitalize on that momentum for the remainder of the game.

Virginia seemingly took a play from the Crimson’s playbook as it dug itself out of its deficit, scoring the final seven goals of the contest and shutting out Harvard for almost 14 minutes. With the score tied at 10-10, a palpable shift in energy could be felt in the crowd as Nunes carried the ball himself over the midline, racing past a host of Crimson defenders to send the ball past a waiting senior goalie Christian Barnard. Mirroring the Greenwich, CT native’s own goal earlier this season, the Harvard defense was hesitant to slide to the goaltender, and its late decision enabled Nunes to secure the team’s first lead since the first quarter and energize the Cavaliers. While every goal in theory is a game-winning goal, Nunes’s bold actions riled up his bench and catalyzed its comeback victory.

“We weren’t subbing as much, we didn’t want to give them transition opportunities, and we did a great job of that for three quarters, and just didn’t do that for the fourth quarter,” Byrne said.

Heading into its league-game this weekend, the Crimson will need to dig deep to move past its set of losses. Its game against Dartmouth will prove crucial in determining its chances at clinching a spot in the postseason Ivy League tournament. The game is also a rivalry rematch, as Dartmouth’s victory over the Crimson last season marked its first victory in the Ivy League since 2015 and broke a 35-game drought for the Big Green against Ancient Eight opponents.

“This is a revenge game for us this weekend. After last year's loss to Dartmouth, the guys are eager to get back out on the field to face them again. These last four Ivy League games are critical for us in order to qualify for the Ivy League Tournament in May,” Darrin added. “We are nine games into the season, and we know what each of us needs to do to succeed out on the field. It really boils down to bringing the energy and confidence all week in practice and in the weight room which carries over into the first whistle on Saturday.”

The Crimson will host the Dartmouth Big Green on Jordan Field tomorrow in its return to league play. The first whistle will sound at 3:30 pm, and if you can’t catch the action live, the game will also be streamed on ESPN+.

—Staff writer Katharine A. Forst can be reached at katharine.forst@thecrimson.com

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