Heading into its weekend matchup against Harvard Saturday, the men’s lacrosse team looked to snap a three-game losing streak and secure a confidence-building win in its first Ivy League game of the season. Bruno (2-3, 1-0 Ivy) did just that, dominating both ends of the field and earning a 13-8 victory over the Crimson (4-2, 0-1).
The last time these teams faced off, the Crimson took the upper hand, knocking the Bears out of contention for the conference crown in the semifinal of last year’s Ivy League tournament. This time, the Bears hoped to flip the script.
“We focused on the little things every day,” said returning All-American defenseman and co-Captain Alec Tulett ’17. “The team went through rigorous training by a U.S. Marine. This was a useful team bonding and motivational exercise to set the tone for Harvard week.”
The week of preparation paid off, with the Bears taking control of the matchup from the opening faceoff. In the first quarter alone, Bruno scored six goals, each coming from a different player. Midfielder Matt Graham ’17 put the Bears on the scoreboard first to tie the game at one. Larken Kemp ’17, Michael Panepinto ’19, Stephen Hudak ’18, Jack Collins ’18 and Dylan Molloy ’17 followed with goals in quick succession to put Brown up 6-2 going into the second quarter.
The Bears’ defense was equally impactful in the opening minutes.
“Our defense came up with some big stops that halted any early Harvard momentum,” Tulett said. “In particular JJ Ntshaykolo ’18 played outstanding, along with Max Gustafson ’18.”
Tulett added that first-year goalie Phil Goss ’20 — who made four saves in the first quarter alone — also played especially well.
Brown found continued success in the second quarter, adding four goals. Over this period, Hudak scored twice to complete a hat trick, while Molloy notched his 13th goal of the season. The Bears entered halftime leading 10-4.
“We knew what Harvard was capable of and knew we couldn’t take a minute off,” Hudak said. The team maintained an “intense focus” to do “all of the little things right,” despite having a cushion so early on, Hudak added.
Although the Bears struggled offensively and were unable to find the back of the Crimson net during the third period, Brown’s defense stepped up, holding the Crimson to one goal. In the third, Ntshaykolo forced two turnovers and picked up two ground balls to stifle Harvard’s offense.
Bruno found its offensive game in the fourth quarter, adding three goals in the period. Tulett — who plays on defense — scored his first goal of the season in his first game returning from injury since a loss to Stony Brook Feb. 25.
“Getting to play is always a great privilege and an incredible feeling,” Tulett said. “My teammates were very supportive the last couple weeks and were all excited in welcoming me back, which made a huge difference.”
Overall, Goss contributed to the effort with 11 saves, while Ntshaykolo finished with three forced turnovers and five ground balls; Brown’s defense caused 26 turnovers in total. Molloy improved his career goals tally to 170, good for 20th place in the NCAA record book.
“This weekend was a good reminder of our potential as a team, and definitely a moral victory coming off of a three-game losing streak,” Tulett said. “There are always areas we can continue to improve upon all over the field. I believe all the pieces are in place for us to succeed as long as we continue to trust our process and systems and put in work everyday.”
Hudak agreed, adding that the team “took a great step in the right direction.”
Brown will take on another non-conference opponent Tuesday in Holy Cross and will then travel to Princeton Saturday. Brown handled both opponents last year, earning a 20-7 win over the Crusaders and besting Princeton, 19-8.