Entering Saturday, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team had not lost to Brown at home since the 2010 season. With the Bears ranked No. 5 in both national polls and boasting an undefeated record after five contests this season, the Crimson knew that it would be a challenge to come out with a win over Brown in Cambridge on Saturday.
The Bears came out firing in the first two quarters and jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but with five minutes remaining in the final period, Harvard found itself within striking distance when senior attackman Devin Dwyer found the back of the net to make it 9-8.
On the very next possession, however, Brown’s attackmen methodically passed the ball around, chewing up the clock before senior attackman Kylor Bellistri found the back of the net to restore a two point lead. The Crimson never drew close again as Bellistri added an insurance goal to round out the last period.
With the 11-8 win, the Bears (6-0, 1-0 Ivy) continue their hot start to the season and are one of only three undefeated teams left in the nation after No. 3/3 Syracuse fell to No. 8/8 Johns Hopkins later in the afternoon. Harvard (4-3, 0-1 Ivy), meanwhile, extended its losing streak to three games.
“The team played its heart out and we just came up short,” Crimson coach Chris Wojcik ’96 said. “Our defense, especially, it kept us in the game till the end against a very good offense. I’m proud of the effort the guys showed.”
The defense certainly stepped up for Harvard, as the unit, despite playing without senior standout and co-captain Stephen Jahelka, limited the No. 1 scoring offense in the country to it’s lowest output of the season.
Fellow senior defenseman Bobby Duvnjak did play, and spent most of the day guarding Brown junior attackman Dylan Molloy. He worked with the rest of the Crimson defensive unit to hold Molloy, the national leader in points per game with 6.60, to one goal and one assist. Bellistri also only finished with three points, after entering the match ranked fourth in the same category with 5.20 points per game.
“We didn’t do anything differently to try to contain them,” Wojcik said. “But even when they we’re finding their shots, they were creating space for their teammates and making their presence felt.”
The Bear's goals came from different sources than usual as the team raced out to a commanding, 8-3 halftime lead. Six players contributed goals to Brown’s offensive outburst, and a pair of midfielders, senior Matt Graham and sophomore Stephen Hudak, combined for four goals in the first quarter after only recording six between the two in the Bears' first five games.
Dwyer, Harvard’s own offensive keystone, found it difficult to make it on the score sheet. He entered Saturday as the country’s second-leading points getter, but was only able to match Molloy with one point and one assist.
To try to spur his team on, Wojcik made several unexpected changes during the game. He replaced sophomore goalie Robert Shaw, who played every minute of the team’s previous matches, with senior Bryan Moore. Moore performed well, and even held Brown scoreless in the third quarter as the Crimson began to claw back. It was the first period all season in which the Bears failed to find the back of the net.
“Coach tried out some different looks but it didn’t really affect our mindset,” said Harvard senior midfielder and co-captain Sean Mahon. “We just need to make sure whoever is on the field is getting the job done.”
Wocjik also shuffled attackmen Will Walker and Joe Lang, putting the senior, Walker, in a deeper position to help him score two key goals in the second half. None of the changes ultimately pushed the Crimson over the edge, however.
“We were outplayed today and that’s all it really comes down to,” Mahon said. “We started out too slow and that cost us a chance to earn a big win.”
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