No. 17/18 Men’s Lacrosse Defeats No. RV/20 Villanova in 13-12 Overtime Thriller

Cheek netted an overtime game winner to give the Crimson its first win of the season (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The No. 17/18 Harvard men's lacrosse team opened its 2016 season in dramatic fashion, defeating Villanova by a score of 13-12 in overtime at Jordan Field Saturday afternoon. Morgan Cheek netted the game winner with 1:27 left to play in the extra period.

The Crimson scoring attack was led by a pair of hat tricks from Cheek and Joe Lang, with Lang assisting on two other Crimson goals for a total of five points. Devin Dwyer also tallied five points in the game as he added one goal along with four helpers. Senior Brendan Newman scored two goals of his own, while Ian Ardrey, Sean Mahon, Sean McDonagh, and J.T. Palladino each added one goal apiece.

Sophomore goalie Robert Shaw earned the win in his first career start for the Crimson, recording 19 saves through 62:33 of action.

Harvard's (1-0) penalty kill was untouchable, as the Crimson was able to hold the Wildcats (0-1) from scoring on all six of their extra-man opportunities. James Sullivan led the Crimson in ground balls with four, while also going 7-of-19 at the X.

Newman opened the scoring at 11:36 but Villanova quickly took control of the action, scoring four-strait goals to build a 4-1 lead. The Crimson fought to battle back as goals rang in from both sides throughout the first half.

It took until the 12:20 mark in the third for McDonagh to complete the comeback and knot the game at seven off a feed from Dwyer. Cheek followed up at 5:39 in the third with a goal that put the Crimson on top, 8-7. Villanova's Johnny Gallaway answered with just over a minute to go in the quarter to bring the game to a tie again.  

The Wildcats pushed ahead with 13:40 to go in the fourth, but their lead was quickly erased with another Cheek goal two minutes later, resulting in the game's fourth tie, 9-9. The Crimson rallied for three additional goals to grow a 12-9 lead with only 5:56 to go in regulation.

Villanova managed to flip the momentum and complete a comeback of their own, as the Wildcats scored three consecutive goals in a period of just 20 seconds to knot the game back up at 12-all with 4:14 remaining.

Neither team was able to score in the remaining regulation time, sending the game into overtime.

Villanova gained possession to begin the extra session, but turned the ball over in its own offensive zone. After a pair of Crimson shots went out the back line, Cheek found space on a restart as he dodged around the left side of the net and fired off the game-winner, completing his hat trick and giving the Crimson its first win of the season.    

Harvard is back in action Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m., when it hosts Holy Cross at Jordan Field. The game will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network.

Game Notes: Devin Dwyer totaled five points on one goal and four assists to extend his point scoring streak to 34 games … Robert Shaw got the win in his first career start in goal for the Crimson … Harvard is 28-12 at home, including a 5-1 mark in home openers, under Chris Wojcik' 96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse.