gh energy, the men’s lacrosse team walked onto its home turf ready to play. But four quarters later, the Bulldogs’ mood was more in line with Saturday’s nasty weather.
The Elis (5-8, 1-5 Ivy) crashed and burned at the hands of No. 17 Harvard (6-4, 3-2 Ivy), 12-4, this weekend. Harvard scored the first goal to take an early lead, and the Bulldogs tried to play catch-up for the rest of the game. No Bulldog was able to score more than once.
“We had a tough time possessing the ball early. We fell so hard so quickly, it really set the tone for the rest of the game,” long-pole defenseman Gray Eklund ’06 said. “We created an impossible situation for our team to climb back.”
The statistics do not reflect the one-sided affair. Harvard outshot the Elis by a slim margin of 31-25, and both the Elis and the Crimson grabbed 24 ground balls. Dan Kallaugher ’06, No. 3 faceoff man in the nation, dominated the Crimson when it came to his specialty, winning 13 of 20 faceoffs.
But throughout the game, Harvard kept the ball down in Yale’s zone, limiting the Elis’ scoring opportunities.
“Everybody was really psyched to play this game, especially because of the tradition,” attack Chris Kempner ’07 said. “Today we had more energy, but we came out relatively flat in terms of quality of play.”
Starting from the first faceoff, it seemed as if both sides were going to fight for every last ball. Harvard’s Cohen brothers assisted each other for the first goal of the game only 1:31 into the first quarter. Yale responded with 10:56 remaining, when attack Tyler Casertano ’08 scored the first and only Yale goal of the quarter. Four Harvard goals in succession made the score 5-1 at the end of the first frame.
The Yale-Harvard rivalry played itself out in the extremely physical game with the numerous fouls and penalties. The Crimson scored extra-man goals off penalties on Eklund and attack Dan Brillman ’06. Overall, the Elis had six penalties to Harvard’s four.
“That helped them build a lead, which helped them the rest of the game,” Eklund said. “Even though we stopped them later on, it played a huge part. They played a clean game.”
The Elis had several opportunities to score throughout the game but were stifled by their 10 turnovers. Kempner said the Elis were too eager for quick goals.
“I don’t think penalties affected us as much as the turnovers did,” Brillman said. “Our man-down [defense] does a good job, but turnovers led to the lack of possessions and Harvard’s ability to hold the ball and in the end, score.”
Attack Kyle Washabaugh ’08 was the only Eli to hit the net in the second quarter, twisting to toss the ball behind him while running away from the goal with 9:40 remaining. It looked like the Elis’ momentum might pick up, but they were held scoreless for the rest of the quarter. Harvard responded with two goals, the second with 10 seconds remaining in the half, to go up by five.
Kempner took the ball to the goal a minute into the third quarter. But the momentum would be lost soon enough with the Elis remaining scoreless the rest of the quarter.
Deflated, the Elis looked like they had given up by the fourth quarter. They made turnovers, missed easy passes and failed to take shots on goal. Harvard’s defense, full of confidence, seemed to gang up on every Bulldogs attacker, leaving no opportunity for a comeback. In the final minutes, Eklund said the Bulldogs tried to press out and take chances by playing aggressive defense, but all that did was result in two more Crimson goals.
Yet with 18 seconds remaining the game, Brillman went straight to the net and scored in a last-ditch effort, resulting in the Bulldogs’ fourth and final goal. The senior said despite the disappointing loss, the day still held meaning for him and his classmates.
“As much as our performance did not meet our expectations, the seniors were still able to play their last games with some of the best friends we will have for life. There is not better way to compete with a bunch of your closest friends,” Brillman said.
Despite this weekend’s loss, the Elis still have one more game on their schedule: next Saturday against Drexel. Eklund said the Bulldogs will take the week to recover and fine tune their game.
“We’re going to stick with it and keep fighting,” Kempner said. “Although a lot of things haven’t gone our way, we’re stilling trying to get a big win against Drexel on Saturday.”