The men’s lacrosse team jumped out to a five-point lead and then held off a Harvard comeback to take a close 9-7 win Saturday at Jordan Field in Cambridge. The Bulldogs won their second straight Ivy victory and improved their record to 6-6, 3-3 Ivy.
Sophomores Ryan Floyd and Mike Scaglione led the Yale attack with two goals and one assist apiece, while Brian Hunt ’02 maintained his place at the top of the Ivy League in points by contributing five assists. Tucker Foote ’02, Marko Lujic ’02, Scott Kenworthy ’04 and Blake Beachler ’02 combined for the remaining five goals.
Adam Oppenheimer ’02 also had an incredible game in the net for the Bulldogs. The junior made 12 saves, with six coming in the final quarter.
Keeping with the Yale-Harvard tradition, Saturday’s game was as hotly contested as any in the schools’ storied rivalry. Fans at the packed stadium witnessed a thrilling match that was not decided until the final buzzer.
“It was the most exciting game I’ve ever played,” Oppenheimer said.
Even though the Bulldogs jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter, by the game’s final minutes the Cantabs had pulled within one.
Looking to tie the score, the Harvard attack controlled the ball and fired a shot, but Oppenheimer made the save to give Yale possession.
“Adam played great in goal,” Brad Liff ’03 said. “He made huge saves at the end.”
After a quick Yale timeout, Hunt held the ball for the Elis. The Harvard defense quickly double-teamed him, and to avoid losing possession, the Bulldogs called another timeout.
When play resumed, Hunt quickly set up Lujic, who beat Harvard goalie Jake McKenna to put Yale up 9-7 and secure the victory.
“Hunt and Lujic clinched it,” Oppenheimer said. “When they scored, we knew we had it.”
Despite the close finish, Yale dominated the game from the opening faceoff. The potent Yale attack took the lead in the first four minutes and never relinquished it. Floyd opened up the scoring with two quick goals assisted by Scaglione and Hunt.
Hunt is currently third in the nation in points per game with 4.75. He has netted 27 goals and contributed 30 assists in Yale’s 12 games.
“We came out on fire,” Scaglione said. “It really set the tone for the whole game. Everyone contributed on offense, and the defense played tough all game.”
The Cantabs responded in the second quarter, outshooting the Elis 15-4. But the Yale defense cut off their angles and allowed only two goals, bringing the halftime score to 6-3.
“The defense in front of the goal played great,” Oppenheimer said.
Momentum shifted back and forth in the second half between the two archrivals. Harvard gained the upper hand in the third quarter, scoring four unanswered goals in a 20-minute stretch to set up the final showdown in the game’s last five minutes.
The Bulldogs play No. 6 Maryland Saturday in Yale’s Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium in their season finale. Even if the Bulldogs upset the Terrapins, it is unlikely they will be receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Maryland (10-2) comes to New Haven after losing to Duke in a 10-6 upset in the finals of the ACC tournament.