Minutemen succumbed to Harvard comeback in 11-9 loss

By Jay Asser

Despite building a sizeable first-half lead, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team succumbed to a comeback by Harvard, falling 11-9 in Cambridge, Mass. on Tuesday night.

The Crimson (6-2) handed the No. 14 Minutemen (5-3, 0-1 Colonial Athletic Association) their second-straight loss, marking the first occasion this season in which UMass has dropped back-to-back contests. The loss was also the first for the Minutemen at Harvard since 1983. UMass had reeled off 13-straight road wins before the loss.

“I didn’t think we had great composure all evening,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella. “In the beginning of the game, I think in the first quarter, we had 12 or 13 shots in the first quarter and scored three goals with point-blank opportunities and when you’re on the road against a really good team like Harvard, you have to score.”

After opening up an 8-4 lead midway through the third quarter, the Minutemen allowed the Crimson to score the final four goals of the period to tie the contest at eight apiece and take momentum into the fourth and final quarter. The third-quarter surge saw four different Harvard players score in Dean Gibbons, Terry White, Jeff Cohen and Ryan Stevens.

In the fourth period, Gibbons continued the assault, scoring two of the Crimson’s goals in the quarter, including the game-winner with two minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the game to put Harvard up for good at 10-9. Daniel Eipp added an insurance score with 42 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Crimson.

“It seemed like every time we made a mistake. To their credit, they capitalized on it and that’s what happened during that run,” said Cannella.

The comeback by Harvard saw five-straight goals to bridge the third and fourth quarters as the Crimson outscored UMass, 7-1, in the final 20:10 of the game. In the final period, Harvard outshot UMass, 16-5, after tallying a total of 21 shots in the first three quarters. Along with Gibbons, Cohen also recorded a hat trick, while White added a pair of goals.

Seven different scorers helped the Minutemen build the 8-4 lead, with sophomore Will Manny’s goal giving UMass its largest lead with 5:39 left in the third quarter.

Junior Art Kell was the lone multi-goal scorer for the Minutemen, scoring twice on eight shots, while also notching an assist. The seven other goals were put in by Manny, Anthony Biscardi, Mike Fetterly, Ryan Hantverk, Colin Fleming, Steve D’Amario and Kyle Smith.

Harvard net minder Harry Krieger made 19 saves to earn the win, outplaying counterpart Tim McCormack, who made 17 saves for UMass.

Though McCormack took the loss, Cannella was pleased that the junior, along with the entire defense, kept UMass in the game when the offense went stagnant.

“I think as a team, we’ve shot poorly over the last four games in that stretch and we’re going to have to find a way out of that because our defense played great tonight throughout the game,” said Cannella. “We weren’t able to win faceoffs, so the defense had to play extra well. They did a nice job and again, you have to put it on the offense a little bit.”

Offense has been a good indicator of success for the Minutemen this season. In its three losses, UMass has failed to score in double digits, but in games where they have scored over 10 goals, however, the Minutemen are 3-0.

UMass will look to break its skid and get back in the win column when it travels to Philadelphia, Penn., for its first-ever meeting with CAA foe Saint Joseph’s on Saturday afternoon.

Jay Asser can be reached at [email protected]