All of that changed on Tuesday night, when Harvard found itself struggling to keep up with the Terriers’ high-powered offense. After Boston University attackman James Burr found the back of the net at the 7:06 mark of the fourth quarter, the Crimson trailed 18-12, by far its largest deficit of the season.
Harvard had threatened to come back twice already in the final frame, but the Terriers had responded both times. With the clock ticking down to zero, it looked as if the Crimson would suffer their second loss of the season.
Then Harvard scored six goals in the span of seven minutes, including the final one with just 0:48 remaining, to knot the score at 18 apiece. In sudden death overtime, the Crimson got the game-winner from senior attackman Morgan Cheek, completing one of the largest comebacks in program history.
With the dramatic win, Harvard (6-1, 1-0 Ivy) secured its best start to a season since 1990. Meanwhile, Boston University (4-5, 0-3 Patriot) suffered its third straight loss after a promising start to the year.
“I thought our team showed incredible heart, continuing to fight,” Harvard coach Chris Wojcik said. “We were playing very poorly defensively, getting outplayed there at times, but we kept our composure, kept playing, and didn’t panic. Hats off to the players for their resiliency and effort, especially down the stretch.”
Several notable records fell during the high scoring affair, as match-winner Cheek broke the all-time program record for most points in a game with 13. His eight assists also tied the program record. As an attacking unit, Cheek combined with fellow senior Joe Lang and sophomore Kyle Anderson to tally 30 points all together, another program record.
“I’ve been struggling to get into a rhythm all season, seeing a lot of new things defenses are throwing at me,” Cheek said. “I hadn’t really had a game where I thought I played well yet, but today, I was able to hit some shots and also set up other guys for opportunities.”
As it turned out, the Crimson needed every single one of the points in its record-breaking haul. The Terriers attacking trio of Burr, Chris Gray, and Jack Wilson combined for 21 points themselves, nearly outscoring Harvard on their own up until halfway through the fourth quarter. Up to that point, Boston University had found creases left and right in the Crimson defense and capitalized with clinical finishes.
“We definitely struggled defensively, especially in our one-on-one matchups,” Wojcik said. “Their attack unit is very good at moving around, forcing us to rotate a lot and opening up space for good shots. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, when we got possession a couple times in a row on face-offs, that we were able to stop the bleeding.”
Freshman faceoff specialist Steven Cuccurullo was instrumental in that fourth quarter stretch in which the team clawed back into the game, winning five crucial face-offs to keep the momentum on the home team’s side. His last face-off win gave the Crimson first crack in overtime, and it was a chance that the team did not squander.
Down the stretch Anderson played a key role, setting his career-high for goals with seven on the night. Between the 5:38 and 1:12 mark of the fourth quarter, he scored four straight to bring the score from 18-13 to 18-17. Anderson used a variety of maneuvers to finish, scoring around defenders and from tight angles to bring his team back into the game.
“It was a whirlwind of a game, and getting those goals down the stretch was a great feeling,” Anderson said. “Every guy on this team has an important role to play, and I was just glad I was able to contribute in my role.”
—Staff writer George Hu can be reached at email@example.com
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