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Men’s Lacrosse Clinches 11-10 Win Against Brown, Still Falls Short of Postseason

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With Princeton clinching victory over the Yale Bulldogs just before the first whistle, the Harvard men’s lacrosse team’s (8-5, 2-4 Ivy) final win of the season, 11-10, against the Brown Bears proved inconsequential for both programs, with the Ivy League Tournament lineup having already been decided. The four teams that will continue into the postseason are No. 8 Cornell, No. 12 Princeton, No. 13 Yale, and No. 16 UPenn.

Despite clawing its way into the top-20 rankings at the start of the season, a slew of late losses to Princeton, UPenn and Cornell would send the Cambridge program just outside of the top-tier. For the second season in a row, the team’s hopes at replicating its 2022 NCAA Tournament wildcard bid were quashed. Although the season was shorter than the team had hoped, the program saw a marked improvement in its competitiveness in both the Ivy League and in out of conference play.

The 2024 roster brought a maturity to Jordan Field that manifested in grittiness and a fierce desire for victory. Frisbie Family Head Coach Gerry Byrne’s team looked like it wanted, and deserved, to win against the top programs in the nation.

“It’s tough to go into a week where, other than regular competition, there’s nothing really kind of on the line. The way that I approached it was that there’s always something on the line,” Byrne said. “We want to get better, we want to win our last game. It doesn’t have to mean anything beyond this weekend, but I think that this is the test of our character and our culture, and as a result, we had a great week of practice.”

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The team’s success on Saturday marked the final contest in a Crimson jersey for twelve seniors on the Harvard team, and their departure from Cambridge will leave key vacancies that Byrne will need to fill heading into next season. Goaltending from senior Christian Barnard, who was named All-Ivy League Honorable Mention, was pivotal to the team’s defensive lockdowns this season. Barnard posted 11 saves in the game against Brown, excelling in his second season as the starting goalie following the departure of Kyle Mullin in 2022. With only two other goalies on the roster and one of them being a senior (George Alvarez), freshman Teddy Kim — who saw no field time this season — will need to step in and fill Barnard’s shoes.

At the faceoff X the advantage leaned slightly in Brown’s favor, with senior FOGO Andrew Degennaro and sophomore FOGO Matt Barraco clinching about 43 percent of their takes at the whistle. Barraco — who played second fiddle to DeGennaro this season — came in clutch in key moments, and, alongside freshman Owen Umansky, will be a player to watch next spring.

Offensively, the team found its stride quite nicely, ramping up its performance with each game. The squad went even on shots with Brown at 40 a piece. Early in the season, the team struggled to generate takes offensively in the first and second quarter, which put it at a deficit as the lines figured out how to pinpoint its opposing defense’s weaknesses. As it started getting off shots quicker the attack was able to find better opportunities. While the starting line of junior Sam King, sophomore Teddy Malone, and freshman Jack Speidell will all be returning in the fall, the departure of senior attackman Graham Blake will be felt on the scoreboard. Blake, who will be continuing his lacrosse career at Duke next season as a grad transfer, rotated in as the third attackman with Speidell, finding his stride after being sidelined for the majority of his Harvard career due to injury and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first half of the game leaned entirely in the Crimson’s favor, with the squad racing out to an early 5-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. The team didn’t let off the gas pedal through the next fifteen minutes of play, heading into the locker room with what seemed to be a solid three goal buffer and a 7-4 head start. The squad continued that intensity through the third, out-scoring Brown 4-3. Harvard notched three goals in the span of one minute and three seconds at the conclusion of the third, but after that spurt of greatness, was unable to convert for the remainder of play. Speidell sent the ball past goalie Connor Theriault with 3:52 left on the clock on a lefty wraparound take around the left side of the crease before notching another point just 52 seconds later on a feed from King in front of the crease. Just 11 seconds after Speidell sent Theriault to his knees, sophomore SSDM Owen Guest found the back of the cage after securing the ball on the face off scrum and racing downfield, where he split the sea of Brown defenders who hesitated in sending the slide.

Despite an attainable victory in sight, with an 11-6 lead and a quick succession of goals, the squad lost its momentum and was held scoreless by the Bears for the final 18 minutes of competition. Despite Brown scoring the last four goals, the Crimson defense was able to stop its opponent from staging a late comeback. Imperative in warding off the loss were SSDMs in senior Andrew O’Berry – who will be utilizing his fifth year of eligibility at UNC next year – sophomores Guest and Finn Jensen, and junior Ray Dearth. LSMs Greg Campisi – a senior who will be moving to South Bend to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next season – and sophomore Sean Jordan were also crucial in stymying the Brown attack.

“As far as what happened in the fourth quarter, I think that we got complacent,” Byrne said. “We felt like the game was in hand already, and you know, it’s easier to be the hunter. So, when you’re behind, their character clicked in and they were able to make it a more competitive game at the end.”

The valkyrie-like ride from the attack, which held the Bears to a meager 73 percent clear rate, enabled the defense to drop back into its zone quickly and slow the fastbreak, something the team had been working on throughout the season. At low defense, juniors Martin Nelson and Logan Darrin were led by captain Collin Bergstrom. The line, which has proven lethal all season, showed maturity throughout the game in locking down its opponents, talking through picks, and forcing Brown to use the entirety of its shot clock. The man down unit was particularly dominant, holding the Bears to just one goal on its four power play opportunities.

“It was a mix of players that we had recruited and that we had inherited from the previous staff, and they were able to blend and be a foundation for us having two winning seasons in the last three years, which is new,” said Byrne about the impact his graduating seniors had on the program. “Making the NCAA tournament, having six or seven top-20 wins during their time and sell outs and service, I think their impact was in the classroom leading the country in GPA for two-straight years and the money we raised for TeamImpact, and the big wins we had and the trips we went on.”

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While the majority of Byrne’s starting roster will have the chance to battle for a National Championship and Ivy League glory next season, his senior class will leave a mark that will shape the future of his program. Despite having to overcome careers plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic, two canceled seasons, a coaching change, and other adversities, the Crimson’s season set the tone for its underclassmen, bringing a tangible intensity to Jordan Field and setting a precedent for excellence. While the year might have ended more abruptly than they would have liked, their remarks on the program are indicative of how much they have invested in Harvard Lacrosse, and showcase their confidence in the team’s ability to grow in future seasons:

“Being a part of the Harvard Lacrosse program has meant the absolute world to me. It gave me the chance to learn life lessons and values that I will carry with me forever. It was really an experience I would not trade for anything in the world.” - George Alvarez

“Having the privilege to call myself a Harvard Lacrosse player for the last 5 years is something I will forever be grateful for. In my time I have formed bonds with guys who will be my best friends for the rest of my life. Through the ups and downs of each game, season, and year we continued to grow closer with one another and make each other better. Now that my time as a player has come to an end, I will continuously strive to recreate the culture of love, hard work and unrelenting compete level everywhere I go. I will always miss being surrounded by 50+ guys who are all doing everything they can to find success. I will forever consider myself lucky to have been a part of this team and thank Coach Byrne for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something that was so instrumental to my time at Harvard.” - Fred Asare-Konadu

“Having the opportunity to play for Harvard Lacrosse has been a dream come true for me. I wanted to play here since I was a little kid so seeing that come to fruition is a bit surreal. Although the season did not go as planned, I loved every single second of it. My teammates are my best friends, and we have made bonds that will last an eternity. I cannot thank everyone enough who helps our program. I am forever in debt to Harvard lacrosse. I know this program is special, and I can’t wait to see what they can do next year.” - Christian Barnard

“Playing Harvard lacrosse has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. I’m so grateful for all the teammates and coaches I’ve worked with along the way and the friends for life I have made. It’s truly a special community and I am so glad to have been a part of it and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the program.” - Collin Bergstrom

“Playing Harvard Lacrosse has been the most amazing experience of my life. Having the opportunity to play the sport that I love with my best friends in the world every single day has truly been a blessing and I could not be more grateful. Through wins and losses, celebration and disappointment, I have loved every second of it and will cherish the memories of my time here forever. I would not be where I am today without the continued support of my family, coaches, training staff, friends, and countless others who have made it all possible and I cannot thank them enough. I am so excited to see the success that the team achieves in the future and can’t wait to be in the stands of Jordan Field cheering them on!” - Graham Blake

“Harvard lacrosse has changed my life forever. I have made lifelong memories with friends I will have forever. It has truly been the honor of my life to experience every high, every low, and every single moment with all my teammates.” – Mike Binkowski

“I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Harvard Lacrosse. Being a member of this team has been an unbelievably rewarding experience, getting to compete day in and day out with the best group of guys and my closest friends. While this season ended earlier than we wanted it to, I have the utmost confidence that the program has the recipes for success, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.” – Greg Campisi

“Being a member of the Harvard Lacrosse team has been such an incredible experience. Over these past four years, the program has exposed me to some of the most incredible people. I will be forever grateful for being given the opportunity to wear the Harvard jersey. I am so excited to see what the future of this program holds. Thank you, Harvard Lacrosse.” – Andrew DeGennaro

“Having the opportunity to be part of the Harvard lacrosse community had nothing but a positive impact on my development as a person. My experience was unique, going from an active player role to a managerial role, yet every moment was worth it. I learned countless lessons and made amazing friends along the way. Thinking about my time here fills me with joy, and I will miss the team dearly. I’m extremely grateful for everything that Harvard lacrosse has given me, and I’m beyond excited to see what the program achieves in the future.” – Justin Glod

“Being a member of Harvard Lacrosse has not only provided me with lifelong friendships with an amazing group of young men but also proven to me that my limits far exceed what I once believed. A coaching staff that truly cares for the development of its players and an unbreakable bond between teammates have made this ending so bittersweet, but I plan to remain an active member of the community as an Alumnus. All of the early mornings and hard work put in over the years feels like a tiny task when doing it while surrounded by such amazing people. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities this team has shown me and this experience has truly been second to none.” – Jaden Jernigan

“Playing Harvard Lacrosse has been the greatest honor of my life. The memories that I’ve been able to make over the last four years have been incredible. I want to thank each and every one of my teammates. Without them my time here wouldn’t have been as special. I know the season didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but the improvement we made as a team since the fall has been great to be a part of. I’m really sad to be leaving the team now because I know how good they are going to be next year and years to come. I also want to thank Coach Byrne and all the other coaches for not only teaching us on the field, but off the field as well. The lessons I’ve learned during my time as a Harvard Lacrosse player will help guide me through my next journey in life and that’s why I’ll be forever indebted to this program and the people who helped get me here.” – Brennan McBride

“Harvard men’s lacrosse has been family for me. I have loved my time here and cannot begin to thank coach Byrne and the rest of the staff enough for allowing my four years here to be so incredible. My friends in this senior class mean the world to me and will be my best friends for the rest of my life. I love this team and am looking forward to their success in the future.” – Andrew O’Berry

“It’s impossible to put into words how much this program has meant to me over the past 5 years. The passion and love that this team has for each other has taught me so much about myself and will stick with me for the rest of my life. I want to thank the coaches, families, and all 55 of my best friends for making this experience the most special one of my life. I can’t wait to see what this team does next.” – Mark Stephens

—Staff writer Katharine A. Forst can be reached at katharine.forst@thecrimson.com.

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