For the men’s lacrosse seniors, their final games provide an opportunity to cement their Yale legacy. In their first two seasons on the team, Yale defeated Harvard in their final regular season game and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Last season, however, the Bulldogs lost 11–10 to the Crimson at home to conclude their regular schedule and dropped a 10–9 season-ending decision in Cambridge in the Ivy tournament, concluding their NCAA tournament streak.
On Saturday, Yale travels to Harvard for what is most likely the last of the seniors’ five matchups with the Crimson. Unlike past years, the Elis’ postseason fate most likely does not ride on the outcome of their final game, but the Harvard contest is still important for re-establishing momentum after Saturday’s loss at Albany.
The No. 8 Bulldogs (9–3, 3–2 Ivy) squandered a 10–9 fourth-quarter lead last weekend, giving up three goals in a span of under four minutes and falling to the No. 10 Great Danes by a one-goal margin, 12–11.
While Yale lost the matchup and their four-game winning streak in Albany, midfielder Conor Mackie ’18 emphasized that the Bulldogs had some successful moments against the Great Danes.
“I think our defense did a good job on ball, trying to play more cohesive and on the same page,” Mackie said.
However, he mentioned that the offense struggled to control the tempo and play with the same cohesive style that led to their earlier success.
The Elis hope to regain their success, on both offense and defense, in Cambridge this weekend. The Crimson (6–7, 1–4 Ivy) have had an up-and-down season but find themselves entering the season’s final game sitting in the Ivy cellar.
Nonetheless, Harvard poses a challenge to the Bulldogs and has proved to be a dangerous opponent even in their losses. The Crimson defeated No. 9 Cornell on April 4, but has dropped their past two games to Penn and at Princeton.
Even in those defeats, Harvard proved that it could hang with top teams like the Bulldogs. Both the Quakers and Tigers beat the Crimson by only a single goal, with Harvard crumpling under pressure and giving away a three-goal fourth-quarter lead against Penn while staging a valiant comeback that fell just short against Princeton.
The Crimson is led by star attackman Devin Dwyer, whose 28 assists and 48 points both lead the team by a sizable margin. Dwyer also sits third in the Crimson’s rankings for ground balls, showing his versatility.
Discussing Harvard’s offense, attackman J.W. McGovern ’16 pinpointed Dwyer as the key to the explosive Crimson attack.
“One of their standout players is Dwyer; he’s one of the best passers in the league and in the country,” McGovern said. “He’s got great vision and the other guys on Harvard’s offense are looking to cut and get open for him.”
Beating the Crimson would give the Elis some positive reinforcement heading into the Ivy tournament, in addition to providing much-needed revenge for last year’s painful season-ending losses.
For defenseman Michael Quinn ’16, the Harvard rivalry carries even more meaning than usual after last year’s difficult experience.
“Losing to Harvard twice in a row last year is something that still resonates with the returning guys this year,” Quinn said. “Them winning the Ivy regular season title on our home field was a very sobering experience, and something that we’ve used to keep us focused for this weekend.”
Unlike last year, the Ivy title will not be at stake on Saturday. Nonetheless, for the seniors and for the entire Bulldog squad, Harvard remains as much of a must-win game as any on the schedule.
Yale visits Cambridge on Saturday. Face-off is at 4 p.m.