The men’s lacrosse team traded goals all night in a back-and-forth contest with Harvard in Cambridge Saturday. But in the end, the Crimson (3-3, 1-0 Ivy) found the deciding goal when Jeff Cohen fired the game-winner past goalie Will Round ’14 two minutes into overtime, giving Harvard the 10-9 win in both teams’ Ivy opener.
“It was tight as a guitar string,” said Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90. “We put everything into it, and we played well. It was an exciting back-and-forth game – two teams slugging it out and not letting each other pull away. It was two teams playing each other at a high level, and they matched each other blow for blow.”
Tiffany said though the loss was “heartbreaking,” he was happy with the effort his team put forward in an intense atmosphere against an Ivy rival.
“We certainly played with a tremendous amount of tenacity and focus that I don’t think we’ve seen yet this year,” Tiffany said. “It was certainly exciting, and I thought our tenacious play matched the atmosphere.”
The Bears’ (2-3, 0-1) attack was effective throughout, and the team scored the first goal of every period. The offense was paced by hat tricks from John DePeters ’13 and Nick Piroli ’15. Piroli’s three goals matched his opening day hat trick in the win over Quinnipiac, while midfielder DePeters, who Tiffany said “stepped up big in a big atmosphere,” tallied his first career three-goal performance. On the defensive end, Round made nine saves, and defenseman Philip Pierce ’14 forced seven turnovers and scooped up four groundballs.
The first goal of the game did not come until 10 minutes in, when DePeters drew first blood. Only two minutes later, Cohen answered back for the Crimson, forcing the first of six tie scores on the day.
In the second quarter, both offenses started to warm their engines. Piroli reclaimed the lead for Brown with his first goal of the day only 13 seconds into the period, but Harvard tied it up 2-2 a minute later. Brown scored twice with goals from George Sherman ’13 and Co-captain Parker Brown ’12, but Harvard trimmed the deficit back to one before the half.
“We were a little sloppy in the first half offensively,” Tiffany said. “But we were scrappy, and we hustled, and we created some scoring opportunities, not in the prettiest way, but made some things happen.”
Out of the intermission, Brown struck first again as Piroli stretched the lead to 5-3. But Harvard responded quickly, scoring twice in two minutes to tie the game again. DePeters then traded goals with the Crimson’s Terry White, before the junior completed his hat trick and gave Brown the lead heading into the fourth quarter after beating the Harvard goalie on the quarter’s final possession.
In the fourth quarter, Harvard found its first lead of the day. Brown struck quickly out of the gate with a score from Sam Hurster ’14 to extend its lead to 8-6, but the Crimson scored three consecutive goals in the next five minutes to take a 9-8 lead with just under eight minutes remaining in the game. Finding themselves in a hole for the first time all day, the Bears kept their cool, and Piroli found the equalizer with 5:40 to play. In the final five minutes, the Bears got off two shots, but Hurster’s attempt was saved, and DePeters missed wide.
In the overtime period, Round made an early save, but on the Bears’ next possession, Parker Brown’s shot was turned away as well. Harvard then took a timeout, and the play drawn up in the huddle led to the game-winner. With 2:19 to play in OT, Cohen was freed up by a screen and beat Round before being mobbed by his coaches and teammates in celebration of the win.
Tiffany said the loss hurts, but he stressed that the players cannot allow any doubt to enter their minds after losing a game in which “minutiae separated the two teams.”
The Bears will have a busy spring break, travelling to Vermont (1-6) and No. 15 Duke (3-3) for a pair of non-conference bouts before returning home March 31 to take on No. 16 Princeton (4-2, 1-0) in an attempt to keep themselves in the Ivy hunt early in the season.
The biggest challenge for the team will now be to recreate the intensity from Saturday’s Ivy game and bring it into the two upcoming non-conference matchups, Tiffany said.
“I challenged the men with this,” Tiffany said. “The intensity that we brought, the tenacity that we brought Saturday night – bring it to Burlington, Vermont Saturday at one o’clock.”