There’s something special about the Harvard men’s lacrosse team. The signs are everywhere. There’s the Crimson’s 9-6 upset at Duke — against the country’s No. 5 team, in the season opener — followed by a 12-4 pounding of Stony Brook the next weekend. Then there is the crucial play of freshman attackman Jeff Cohen, who leads the team in goals and points with nine and 14, respectively, and the stellar play of senior goalie Joe Pike, allowing just over five goals a game this season, which ranks him second in the Ivy League. Something special, indeed.
Harvard probably didn’t need to begin the game on Friday (March 13) against the Hartford Hawks with a six-goal explosion. But it definitely helped. Eight different Crimson players tallied goals in the match, including Cohen, who netted a career-high five goals and an assist; Travis Burr ’10, who added a career-high four goals; and a hat-trick from Jesse Fehr ’10, leading the No. 16 Harvard Crimson to a season-high 18 goals and an 18-7 win at Harvard’s Cumnock Turf.
Down 3-9 at the half, the Hartford scored twice in the third quarter to close the gap to 5-10. But unshaken, the Crimson fired back with eight unanswered goals to cripple the Hawks’ wings and their spirit.
The Crimson’s 18 goals — the most since 2004 — bumped their scoring average this season to 10.5 goals per game (up from last season’s 8.24 average). Harvard (3-1), which last season finished the year 6-8 (1-5, Ivy League), looks much-improved on defense as well, lowering the team’s goal against average from 7.46 goals per game in 2008 to 6 per game this season.
Despite the Crimson’s extraordinary performance thus far, a difficult road lies ahead. Of Harvard’s nine remaining games, four ranked opponents remain on the schedule: No. 3 Cornell, No. 5 Princeton, No. 14 Brown, and No. 19 Georgetown. And of those four games, only the Crimson’s April 15 matchup against Brown is at home. But, if this Crimson team can open up on the road and upset a national powerhouse, and weeks later go off for 18 goals on a cold Friday night in Cambridge, one should be careful before counting them out just yet.
The Crimson face Penn on Saturday (March 21, 1 p.m.) at Harvard Stadium. Last season Harvard fell to the Quakers in the Ivy League opener, 10-12, and that was the start of a six-game losing streak. This season the Crimson look to return the favor in this year’s Ivy opener before going on a four-game road trip.
Sure, Harvard may not start the game with six straight goals, but if you come out to watch the Crimson on Saturday, look for something special.