Men's Lacrosse Returns to NCAA Tournament Saturday at No. 6 Notre Dame
NCAA Tournament First Round
The Crimson will be making its sixth NCAA tournament appearance Saturday versus the Fighting Irish (Gil Talbot).
For the first time in eight years, the Harvard men's lacrosse team heard its name called among the field for the NCAA tournament when the brackets were revealed Sunday night live during the NCAA Selection Show on ESPNU.
The Ivy League Champion Crimson will travel to South Bend, Ind., to face sixth-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday, May 10, in the team's first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006. The game will be aired live on ESPNU beginning at 2:30 p.m.
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How We Got Here
Harvard received one of eight at-large bids for the tournament with a 10-6 overall record. The Crimson went 5-1 in Ivy League play to earn a share of the conference championship, and won four games against teams currently ranked in the top 20 in both the Warrior Div. I Media Poll and USILA Div. I Coaches Poll. The team also posted an impressive 7-1 mark on its home turf, with its only setback coming in the Ivy League Tournament final to Penn, 7-5, which received the No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Notre Dame earned the No. 6 seed in the tournament as the ACC Tournament Champion. The Fighting Irish has gone 9-5 overall, 2-3 in the ACC, and is making its ninth straight appearance in the tournament.
About the NCAA Tournament
The NCAA Tournament expanded to 18 teams this year with 10 automatic conference qualifiers and eight at-large selections. The four lowest automatic-qualification teams will compete for two play-in berths Wednesday, May 7, with the winners of those games set to face the top two seeds in the tournament.
The top eight teams in the bracket were seeded and each received a home game to be played either Saturday or Sunday. This weekend's winners will advance to the quarterfinals, being held May 17 at James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., and May 18 at Delaware Stadium in Newark, Del. The Final Four is scheduled for May 24-26 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
Harvard in the NCAA Tournament
Harvard will be making its sixth appearance in the NCAA tournament when it takes to the field against Notre Dame, and first since 2006. The Crimson is 2-5 all-time in the tournament, with its last win coming in 1996 when Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse, helped Harvard to a 15-12 win over Hofstra to reach the quarterfinal round.
Harvard is 1-0 all-time against Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament, having defeated the Fighting Irish 9-3 in the first round in 1990.
Rank and File
Harvard is currently ranked 11th in the USILA Div. I Coaches Poll, matching the highest ranking in program history, and is 13th 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.
Last Time Out
The No. 12 Harvard men's lacrosse team opened the game on a 4-0 run before being quieted by No. 10 Penn as the Quakers came from behind for a 7-5 victory to win the 2014 Ivy League Tournament Sunday afternoon at Harvard Stadium.
The Quakers held Harvard scoreless for 44:58 as it scored seven straight goals to open a 7-4 lead with just 5:43 to play. Will Walker ended the drought with an unassisted goal with 4:41 remaining, and just missed on an opportunity to make it a one-goal game with 1:07 to play as his shot hit the post. Penn goalkeeper Brian Feeney came up with a save on a Devin Dwyer attempt with 0:37 on the clock, and the Quaker defense ran out the clock to secure the win.
Bringing Home The Hardware
Harvard earned a share of the 2014 Ivy League Championship, the fourth Ancient Eight title in program history and first in 24 years. The Crimson finished the regular season off with a 9-5 overall record and 5-1 mark in conference, matching Cornell for the top spot in the Ivy League.
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.
Harvard has won a total of 12 Ivy League Championships in 2013-14; Men's Basketball, Men's Fencing, Football, Women's Golf, Women's Ice Hockey, Men's Lacrosse, Women's Soccer, Men's Squash, Women's Squash, Men's Swimming and Diving, Women's Swimming and Diving, Women's Indoor Track and Field.
Seven members of the Crimson were named to the All-Ivy League teams, highlighted by the selection of Devin Dwyer and Bobby Duvnjak to the first team. Peter Schwartz, Jake Gambitsky and Stephen Jahelka were each tabbed to the second team, while Will Walker and Carl Zimmerman received honorable mention nods.
Harvard's seven All-Ivy honorees are the second most in program history, behind only the 1996 squad which placed eight on the all-conference teams. Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse, was named to the All-Ivy first team that year after captaining the Crimson to a 12-3 overall record, a 5-1 mark in conference, and an appearance in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals.
Harvard's 10 wins this season are the most for the team since 2011 (10-6). Should the Crimson defeat Notre Dame on Saturday, it would mark the ninth time that Harvard has won at least 11 games in a season and the first since 1998. Harvard has won 10 or more games in a season 16 times in program history.
Harvard's 5-1 record against the Ivy League, meanwhile, matched the best conference record in program history. Harvard has now gone 5-1 in conference play six times, but never 6-0.
Home Field Advantage
Harvard is 22-10 at home under Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse, including a 7-1 record in 2014. The Crimson has previously gone undefeated at home just six times in the program's 125 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 11-8 in Harvard Stadium with Wojcik at the helm, and boasts an 11-2 record at Soldiers Field Lacrosse Stadium.
Harvard played in four straight games that were decided by just one goal between April 12 and May 2, going 3-1 in those contests with three consecutive wins.
The Crimson was actually outscored 9-6 in the fourth quarter of those contests, but found a way to make the big play down the stretch.
Light Up The Scoreboard
Harvard enters the weekend ranked 21st in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 11.06 goals per game. The Crimson has scored in double-figures a total of 11 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.
Both Peter Schwartz (25g, 21a) and Devin Dwyer (11g, 35a) have contributed more than 40 points this season, and Will Walker (34g, 3a) could soon go over the 40-point plateau as well. Only once under Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse, has Harvard had more than one individual reach 40 points.
Quarterbacking the Offense
Devin Dwyer is tied for the team lead in points with 46 (11g, 35a) 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 11.50 goals per game with an 8-4 record.
Dwyer's 35 assists on the year are the eighth most in program history, and he ranks third in the NCAA wth 2.92 assists per game. His 62 career assists, meanwhile, are four shy of the program's career top 10 with his six assists in the regular season finale at Yale being the most by an Ivy Leaguer this year.
Peter Schwartz has set new career-highs across the board this season, registering 46 points on 25 goals and 21 assists. The senior co-captain has re-invented his game over the course of the last two years, as he currently stands at 100 points (50g, 50a) for his career.
Finding the Back of the Net
Will Walker has scored a team-leading 34 goals, the most for the Crimson since Jeff Cohen '12 tallied 48 in 2012. Walker is just the 17th player in Harvard history to score at least 30 goals in a season, and is currently tied for 13th on the Crimson's single-season list.
Walker notched a career-high five goals in the team's win against Dartmouth, the most by a member of the Crimson since Cohen tallied seven against Michigan on March 31, 2012.
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 52.3 percent (118-224) of the faceoffs he has taken this season, including an incredible 68.1 percent (64-94) 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 49.4 percent (49-99) of the faceoffs he has taken on the year.
Harvard's sophomore class has accounted for 61 percent of the Crimson's offense this season. The group has totaled 175 of the team's 289 points, led by Devin Dwyer (11g, 35a), Will Walker (34g, 3a), Deke Burns (16g, 6a) and Sean Mahon (10g, 8a).
Turning Them Away
Jake Gambitsky has been solid in goal for the Crimson, allowing just 9.67 goals per game while posting a .519 save percentage. Gambitsky has recorded double-digit saves in 11 of Harvard's 16 contests this season, including each of the last five outings, while allowing fewer than 10 goals 11 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
Four different members of the Crimson were named Ivy League Player of the Week this season, marking the most player of the week awards in program history. Each of Harvard's honorees received the accolade for the first time in their career; Jake Gambitsky (March 10), Gabriel Mendola (April 7), Brian Fischer (April 21), Devin Dwyer (April 28).
Against the Odds
Harvard knocked off then-No. 2 Cornell on April 5, 14-9, marking the highest ranked opponent the Crimson has ever beaten. Harvard is 4-6 this season against ranked foes, and boasts nine wins overall versus ranked opponents under Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's 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 9.56 goals per game and has held 11 of 16 opponents to fewer than 10 goals, including six of its last seven.
Turning Defense into Offense
Harvard long poles have scored 10 points this season, including six goals; Jack Breit (4g, 2a), Stephen Jahelka (1g, 2a) and Bobby Duvnjak (1g).
Breit has scored 11 career points (6g, 5a), ranking him 12th among active long poles in the NCAA.
Point Scoring Streaks
Points During Streak
2014 Hat Tricks
Career Hat Tricks
Strength of Schedule
Nine of Harvard's 2014 opponents are currently ranked or receiving votes in either the USILA Div. I Coaches Poll or the Warrior Div. I Media Top 20; Duke (3/3), Notre Dame (5/5), North Carolina (9/9), Penn (9/10), Cornell (13/12), Albany (15/14), Yale (16/17), Princeton (RV/RV), and UMass (RV/--).
All six of Harvard's losses have come on the road to teams that were ranked at the time; Duke, North Carolina, Penn (2x), Albany and UMass.