The Crimson is in search of its first Ivy title in 24 years Saturday versus the Bulldogs (Gil Talbot).
The No. 16 Harvard men's lacrosse team will travel to unfriendly territory this weekend as it faces off at No. 13 Yale in the regular season finale, with a Crimson victory clinching at least a share of the Ivy League championship. FOX College Sports Atlantic (DirecTV 608) will air the game live beginning at 1:30 p.m. from Reese Stadium.
Where We Stand
Harvard is currently tied with Cornell atop the Ivy League standings with a 4-1 record, and owns the tiebreaker over the Big Red for the right to host the Ivy League Tournament. A win on Saturday over Yale would secure at least a share of the Ivy League championship for the Crimson, its first since 1990, and would send the conference tourney to Cambridge.
Penn (4-2) and Yale (3-2) have locked up the two remaining spots in the tournament, and there is the potential for a four-way tie for the Ancient Eight title should both Harvard and Cornell lose. A complete breakdown of the tournament seeding and location scenarios are below:
Host: Harvard will host the tournament if it beats Yale. If Yale beats Harvard, Cornell will host regardless of the outcome of the game with Princeton. (Cornell would win a four-way tiebreaker at 4-2 by going 2-1 against the group and having a win over Penn, which would also be 2-1 against the group.)
Seeds: If Harvard and Cornell win, Harvard will be seeded No. 1, Cornell will be No. 2, Penn will be No. 3 and Yale will be No. 4. (Harvard beat Cornell earlier this season.)
If Cornell and Yale win, Cornell will be seeded No. 1, Penn will be seeded No. 2, Yale will be seeded No. 3 and Harvard will be seeded No. 4. (Penn beat Yale and Harvard earlier this season. Yale would then have a win over Harvard.)
If Cornell and Harvard both lose (creating a four-way tie at 4-2), Cornell is still the No. 1 seed (by virtue of a 2-1 mark against the group and a win over Penn), Penn is the No. 2 seed, Yale is No. 3 (by virtue of the win it would then have over Harvard ) and Harvard would be No. 4.
Rank and File
Harvard is currently ranked 16th in the USILA Div. I Coaches Poll and is 19th in the Warrior Div. I Media Top 20. The Crimson had been receiving votes in the polls for much of the season, before first entering the Coaches Poll April 7. This marks the first time since Feb. 26, 2012, that the team has appeared in both rankings.
The Bulldogs enter Saturday ranked 13th in both the Warrior Div. I Media Top 20 and the USILA Div. I Coaches Poll. Yale has won five straight games to move to 9-3 overall and 3-2 in the Ivy League, including a 14-11 defeat of Quinnipiac Tuesday night to close out its non-conference slate.
Yale ranks seventh in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 8.00 goals per game. Eric Natale's 7.85 goals against average between the pipes is also good for seventh in the country, while his .557 save percentage puts him 15th nationally.
The Bulldogs average 10.36 goals per game at the offensive end led by Conrad Oberbeck, who has netted 32 goals and 11 assists for 43 points. Brandon Mangan has contributed 39 points (19g, 20a) with Shane Thornton ranking third on the team with 19 points (7g, 12a). At the X, Dylan Levings has won 58.8 percent (158-267) of the faceoffs he has taken, which is the 16th-best percentage in the NCAA.
Inside the Series
Yale leads the all-time series with Harvard, 60-33, and has won each of the last two meetings between the teams. Last season, the Bulldogs took an 11-10 victory in Cambridge to know the Crimson out of the Ivy League Tournament.
Harvard has clinched one of four spots in the 2014 Ivy League Championship, which will take place Friday, May 2 and Sunday, May 4. The Crimson will earn the right to host the tournament with a win at Yale on Saturday, but a loss would drop Harvard to the fourth seed and force the team to travel to Cornell.
Last Time Out
The No. 20 Harvard men's lacrosse team secured a spot in the Ivy League Tournament with a 9-8 win over No. 14 Princeton Saturday afternoon at Harvard Stadium.
Harvard used a 7-0 run in the first and second quarters to pull away for a 7-1 lead before Princeton came back with a 7-2 stretch of its own. The Crimson defense stood tall in the closing moments, however, with Jake Gambitsky making a save on a Jake Froccaro attempt with 1:18 remaining to all but seal the victory.
Gambitsky came away with 10 saves on the day, including five in the first quarter of play. He was aided at the defensive end by Brian Fischer, who held Princeton All-American Tom Schreiber scoreless for just the second time in his career. Devin Dwyer and Carl Zimmerman each scored a pair of goals to pace the attack, with Peter Schwartz totaling three points (1g, 2a). Austin Williams, meanwhile, was 13-of-19 at the X and collected eight ground balls.
In the Spotlight
Harvard will play three games at Harvard Stadium in front of a national audience on ESPN3. The Crimson's games versus Dartmouth (March 22), Boston University (April 8) and Princeton (April 19) will be simulcast on ESPN3, the WatchESPN App and the Ivy League Digital Network as part of an agreement between ESPN and Harvard Athletics.
Ivy League Digital Network
For the first time ever, all of Harvard's home games and road Ivy League contests which are not being televised will be streamed in HD quality featuring a live scoreboard, new graphics package and play-by-play commentary through the Ivy League Digital Network. Subscribers to the network can watch games both live and On-Demand from their computers, tablets or smart phones, and will have access to live and On-Demand content for all Harvard events throughout the duration of their subscription.
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A win on Saturday against Yale would give Harvard at least a share of the Ivy League championship and would mark the fourth Ancient Eight title in program history. The Crimson last won the conference in 1990 under former head coach Scott Anderson, going 12-3 overall and 5-1 against the Ivies en route to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. Harvard also won the conference in 1980 under current Nichols Family Director of Athletics Bob Scalise, and earned the program's first Ancient Eight title in 1964 under Bruce Munro.
Should Harvard defeat Yale to clinch the crown, it would mark the 11th Ivy League championship for the school overall for the 2013-14 academic year.
Home Field Advantage
Harvard is 21-9 at home under Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse, including an unblemished 6-0 record in 2014. The Crimson had previously gone undefeated at home just six times in the program's 127 year history, with the most recent being in 1990 when the team was 6-0 in Cambridge en route to a 12-3 overall record, the program's third Ivy League championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals.
The Crimson is 10-7 in Harvard Stadium with Wojcik at the helm, and boasts an 11-2 record at Soldiers Field Lacrosse Stadium.
Light Up The Scoreboard
Harvard enters the weekend ranked 16th in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 11.62 goals per game. The Crimson has scored in double-figures a total of nine times this year, including a stretch of eight consecutive games between March 4 and April 8. At the time, Harvard's streak of consecutive games scoring 10 or more goals was the longest in the nation.
Quarterbacking the Offense
Devin Dwyer ranks second on the team with 34 points (10g, 24a) despite missing the first four games of the season due to injury. Harvard averaged just 9.75 goals per game while going 2-2 without Dwyer in the lineup, but since his return the squad is averaging 12.41 goals per game with a 6-3 record.
Dwyer's 24 assists on the year are five shy of placing him on Harvard's all-time list, while his 51 career assists are 15 short of the program's career top 10.
Finding the Back of the Net
Will Walker has scored 18 goals over the Crimson's last six games, including a career-high five against Dartmouth. Walker's five goals versus the Big Green were the most by a member of the Crimson since Jeff Cohen '12 tallied seven against Michigan on March 31, 2012.
Walker's team-leading 31 goals scored, meanwhile, are also the most for the Crimson since Cohen tallied 48 in 2012. He is just the 17th player in Harvard history to score at least 30 goals in a season, and is eight shy of entering the program's single-season top 10.
At the X
Gabriel Mendola had a career day at the faceoff X against Cornell, winning 20-of-26 faceoffs while collecting 10 ground balls. Mendola has won 55.3 percent (99-179) of the faceoffs he has taken this season, including an incredible 70.9 percent (56-79) during Ivy League play.
Austin Williams stepped into the role of faceoff specialist for the team's victory over Princeton, winning 13-of-19 at the X to go with eight ground balls. Williams has won 50.6 percent (41-81) of the faceoffs he has taken on the year.
Harvard's sophomore class has accounted for 60 percent of the Crimson's offense this season. The group has totaled 147 of the team's 243 points, led by Will Walker (31g, 3a), Devin Dwyer (10g, 24a), Deke Burns (12g, 6a) and Sean Mahon (10g, 8a).
Turning Them Away
Jake Gambitsky has been solid in goal for the Crimson, allowing just 9.89 goals per game while posting a .504 save percentage. Gambitsky has recorded double-digit saves in eight of Harvard's 13 contests this season, and has allowed fewer than 10 goals nine times.
Brian Fischer has proven to be one of the top long stick midfielders in the nation this season, as evidenced by his lockdown performances against Cornell and Princeton. Fischer was responsible for marking the Big Red's Connor Buczek, an All-American a year ago, in Harvard's 14-9 win, and held Buczek scoreless for the first time this season. Against the Tigers, Fischer defended three-time All-American Tom Schreiber and kept Schreiber, who entered the game with 199 career points, without a point for just the second time in his career.
Players of the Week
Goalkeeper Jake Gambitsky was named Ivy League Player of the Week March 10 after leading Harvard to a 2-0 week with 30 saves between the pipes. The junior turned away 12 shots en route to a 10-8 victory over Quinnipiac to open the week, then registered 18 stops in the team's 15-7 win at Georgetown, marking the most saves by a member of the Crimson since Harry Krieger '13 made 19 on March 29, 2011 against UMass.
Gabriel Mendola picked up his first career Ivy League Player of the Week honor April 7 following his dominating performance at the faceoff X against then-No. 2/2 Cornell. Mendola went a career-high 20-of-26 at the X while collecting 10 ground balls, helping the Crimson control possession it a 14-9 upset victory over the Big Red.
Brian Fischer was also tabbed as the Ivy League Player of the Week April 21 after helping to hold Princeton's Tom Schreiber, a three-time All-American, scoreless for just the second time in his career. The Tigers had entered the game ranked ninth in the NCAA in scoring, but Fischer and the Crimson defense limited them to just eight goals in the 9-8 victory.
Against the Odds
Harvard knocked off then-No. 2/2 Cornell on April 5, 14-9, marking the highest ranked opponent the Crimson has ever beaten. Harvard also picked up a 9-8 victory over then-No. 14/14 Princeton on April 19, the team's seventh win versus a ranked opponent under Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Lacrosse.
Shutting Them Down
Harvard's defensive unit held Cornell to just nine goals in the team's upset victory, marking the first time since March 23, 2013 that the Big Red had scored fewer than 10 goals in a game. Cornell's dynamic trio of Dan Lintner, Connor Buczek and Matt Donovan, who entered the game ranked third, 12th and 35th in the nation in goals per game, meanwhile, combined to score just one goal on eight shots.
The Crimson has allowed just 9.77 goals per game and has held nine of 13 opponents to fewer than 10 goals, including each of the last four.
Sophomores Deke Burns and Will Walker had breakout performances against Holy Cross as each turned in a hat trick. Burns totaled five points with four goals and one assist, with Walker registering four points on three goals and one assist. Burns entered the season having scored just five career points (1g, 4a) while Walker contributed 21 points (15g, 6a) as a freshman.
Point Scoring Streaks
Points During Streak
2014 Hat Tricks
Career Hat Tricks
Strength of Schedule
Eight of Harvard's 14 2014 opponents are currently ranked or receiving votes in either the Warrior Div. I Media Top 20 or the USILA Div. I Coaches Poll; Duke (2/2), North Carolina (6/6), Penn (8/10), Cornell (12/11), Yale (13/13), Princeton (20/19), UMass (RV/RV) and Albany (RV/RV).