After withstanding 50 shots and enduring two marathon defensive stands, the men’s lacrosse team captured their first H-Y-P title since 1989 with a 6-5 win over Harvard Saturday night at Johnson Field.
It was not the style of lacrosse the No. 11 Bulldogs like to play (8-3, 4-2 Ivy), as the Cantabs (4-7, 0-5 Ivy) won 10 of 14 face-offs and slowed the game’s pace, stalling the ball on every offensive possession. When the Crimson did dodge toward the net, goaltender Eric Wenzel ’03 was impregnable, recording a season-high 20 saves, including 14 in the first half.
“Wenzel was unbelievable,” said midfielder Marko Lujic ’02, who had the game-winning goal for the Elis. “Every shot he was supposed to stop, he stopped. The ones that went in, no goalie in the nation could have stopped.”
Wenzel was not the only bright spot on the Bulldog defense, which used their longsticks to clog the crease and force Harvard to shoot from the perimeter. Defenseman Noah Glass ’03 turned in another solid performance, holding Cantab leading scorer Matt Primm to one goal and no assists.
The Eli defense effectively frustrated Harvard’s offensive efforts, but by the end of the game Cantab head coach Scott Anderson was blaming something else for his team’s misfortunes.
With less than a minute to go in the third period and Yale ahead 6-3, officials called an offsides penalty that would have given the ball to Harvard. Instead, the officials cancelled the call, sending Anderson into a rage and drawing an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty from midfielder Doug Logigian.
“I think a lot of this game was bad officiating,” Anderson said. “I don’t think [the officials] knew what their calls were, and they didn’t come over to explain it.”
Harvard managed an anemic five goals despite outshooting the Elis 50-30.
Yale took a 4-3 lead after the first 30 minutes, spending less than 10 of those minutes on offense. Harvard continued to control the ball in a scoreless third quarter when, with 6:40 remaining in the period, the Elis added to their lead.
In a play emblematic of Yale’s brilliant ball movement in the offensive zone, attackman Mike Scaglione ’02, who had two assists, passed from the left side of the cage to attackman Scott Kenworthy ’04. Kenworthy emerged from behind the net and as the Harvard defense collapsed around the crease, he snapped a pass to midfielder Ned Britt ’04. Britt took five steps down the middle before sidearming a shot over Harvard goaltender Jake McKenna’s shoulder for a 5-3 Bulldog lead.
“We knew they were afraid to let us have the ball on offense, so we had to make every opportunity count,” Yale captain Tucker Foote ’02 said.
Lujic added another score with just over three minutes remaining in the third period to put the Elis ahead 6-3, a lead they would never relinquish despite being shut out in the final period.
The fourth period opened with the final seconds of a Yale man-up opportunity before Harvard gained possession and marched the ball downfield for what became a 10-minute marathon session for the Bulldog defense.
Just like the first period, the Bulldogs had a tough time breaking out of their own zone. Clearing chances fell prey to sloppy passes or pushing penalties, while the Elis lost seven of eight consecutive faceoffs. Midfielder Pat Moylan ’03, normally a speedy wingman on the faceoffs, was out in the second half with a cracked rib.
“The wing play is something we have to work on,” Waldvogel said.
Throughout the final period, Harvard peppered the Eli defense with shot after shot that bounced wide or flew high of the net. When the Cantabs did get a shot on net, Wenzel used his quickness to turn the shot aside, prompting Anderson to call a timeout with just under seven minutes to go in the period.
“I thought we outplayed them, but they shot the ball better than we did,” Anderson said. “It was also hard to adjust to Wenzel. His advantage is he’s so different and unorthodox, and it was hard to adjust to his style.”
Harvard scored twice in the fourth before defenseman Todd Montgomery ’04 blocked a shot and collected the ball with 25 seconds remaining to seal Yale’s fourth consecutive win of the season.
With No. 8 Princeton’s 12-7 win over No. 5 Cornell Saturday, the Elis face two must-win situations as they close out their season against Quinnipiac at home Tuesday before traveling to No. 6 Maryland on Saturday. Since the Elis are no longer in contention for the Ivy League title and an automatic bid for the NCAA tournament, a win over Maryland would improve Yale’s chances for an at-large bid.
“Against Quinnipiac, it’s going to be more of the same, but against Maryland, their offense is more run and gun,” Lujic said. “We can’t wait to play this week. I’m confident we’re going to win.