Despite mounting a valiant fourth-quarter comeback, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team failed to dig itself out of a significant early hole against Princeton. The Crimson (6-7, 1-4 Ivy) outscored the Tigers, 4-0, in the final period but fell just short, dropping a 12-11 decision on the road Friday night.
A sluggish start ultimately doomed Harvard, as Princeton (8-4, 4-1) sprinted out to a 6-1 lead by the middle of the second quarter. Goals by senior long stick midfielder Brian Fischer and freshman midfielder Sean Coleman cut the deficit to three goals entering halftime and helped slow the early momentum of the Tigers.
“We wanted to take away their strong hands, which they were able to respond to very well,” junior goaltender Bryan Moore said. “Princeton was more comfortable than any team we’ve played this year dodging to their weak hand, which put some unexpected pressure on us early.”
Fischer has emerged as an offensive threat in the latter half of the season. After not recording a point during his junior campaign, the Garden City, N.Y., product has scored in three of the Crimson’s last five games as part of a group of long sticks that have shown a nose for the goal. Harvard’s poles have combined for 17 tallies this season, far more than the unit’s output from a year ago.
After the break, both offenses came out firing, scoring more goals in the third quarter than in the entire first half. They traded scores for most of the quarter, and a goal by freshman attackman Tim Edmonds brought the score to 10-7 in favor of the Tigers with under a minute left in the frame.
However, Princeton answered immediately, scoring just eight seconds later on a goal by sophomore attackman Sean Connors. Just eight seconds after that, Tigers attackman Ryan Ambler found the net on a pass from faceoff specialist Zach Currier, turning a three-goal margin into a commanding five-goal lead in the blink of an eye.
“That was a pivotal point in the game right there,” said Harvard coach Christ Wojcik '96. “[Currier] made two outstanding plays off the face-off for them to score.”
After a rough game to that point, the fourth quarter was all Crimson. Junior midfielder Ian Ardrey scored less than a minute into the period to pull Harvard within four. He then broke an eight-minute scoring drought for both teams with 6:35 to play, making the hope of a Crimson comeback a possibility by bringing the score to 12-9.
With time winding down, Harvard drew a penalty and junior attackman Devin Dwyer cashed in on the man-up opportunity with just under two minutes left in the game to cut the deficit to two goals.
However, Princeton won the resulting draw and proceeded to kill the clock, drawing three penalties as the Crimson defense doubled and pressed to try to win the ball back. The penalties appeared to be the dagger for Harvard, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Tigers gave the ball back to the Crimson.
With Harvard still a man down after the string of penalties, freshman attackman Tim Edmonds managed to get off a decent long-range look and snuck it by Princeton goalie Tyler Blaisdell to make it 12-11 with 35 seconds remaining. Although Crimson junior midfielder Keegan Michel won the ensuing faceoff, he lost it on a backcheck from Currier, and the home team corralled the loose ball before winding out the clock to hold on to the victory.
The loss brings Harvard to 1-4 in the Ivy League, thus eliminating the Crimson from postseason contention. The only things on the line for the Crimson in this weekend’s game against rival Yale will be pride and the chance to hurt the Bulldogs’ postseason chances.
“I think there’s a lot on the line for us [against Yale],” Wojcik said. “[We have] a tremendous amount of pride in playing that game…in finishing the season with our best game of the year.”
—Staff writer Phil DeLameter can be reached at email@example.com.
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