Men’s Lacrosse Challenges No. 3 Penn State in Harvard Stadium Bubble Saturday

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
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Harvard vs. No. 3/3 Penn State
Saturday, March 11
12 p.m.
Harvard Stadium Bubble
Ivy League Digital Network
Live Stats
Harvard (4-0, 0-0 Ivy)
Penn State (6-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Harvard leads, 2-1
L, 13-12 (OT)
Harvard vs. Penn State

The Storyline
Harvard men's lacrosse, receiving votes in both the USILA and Media polls, wraps its three-game homestand with No. 3/3 Penn State Saturday, March 11 at 12 noon. The game will be broadcast on the Ivy League Digital Network with Scott Sudikoff and Ben Altsher on the call. Please note: the game will not be open to the general public due to capacity restrictions. 

What to Watch For
• Through four games, Morgan Cheek has registered 6.75 points per game, sitting second in the country. The junior also ranks No. 2 in goals per game (4.00) and sixth in the nation in assists per game (2.75).

• Three players have tallied hat tricks this season, Morgan Cheek (four times) and Ryan Graff and Joe Lang against UML.

• Junior goalie Robert Shaw made a career-high 21 saves in the 11-7 win over UMass and ranks second in the Ivy League with 12.75 saves per game.

• The Crimson has started 4-0 in each of the last two seasons

• Cheek was named to the 2017 Tewaaraton Award Watch List, the pre-eminent lacrosse award that honors the top male and female college lacrosse player.

• Captaining the team this year will be midfielder Sean Coleman, defenseman Ryan Norton and long stick midfielder Matt Ryan.

• The Crimson graduated three of its top five point getters from a year ago, including leading scorer Devin Dwyer. Juniors Morgan Cheek and Joe Lang ranked 2-3 with 60 and 39 points, respectively. Cheek found the back of the net 36 times, while Lang connected on 22 shots. 

Last Time Out
Harvard improved to 4-0 Saturday, outscoring the visiting Catamounts from Vermont, 7-1, in the second half, to rally for the 13-10 victory. Entering the third quarter trailing, 9-6, Harvard's defense and goaltending played shutdown lacrosse for nearly the final 30 minutes of the game. Vermont scored just once the entire half with 2:48 left in regulation.

Fresh Faces
Three rookies have earned starts this year, as Ryan Graff and David Strupp both started each of the first four games. Rookies account for 18 points. In total, seven rookies have seen action this year.   

Back in Action 
The Crimson returns 27 letterwinners from a season ago and three players that started 10-plus games. Offensively, two of the top three point-getters are back. Starting goalie Robert Shaw returns between the pipes.  

That's a 10-4
A year ago, the Crimson's magic number was 10, posting an 8-2 record when reaching double-digit goals. Harvard was 0-6 when scoring nine goals or less. This season, Harvard is 4-0 when scoring 10-plus.

Home Field Advantage
Harvard is 33-14 at home under Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse, including a 6-2 record over the last two years. The Crimson is 14-10 in Harvard Stadium with Wojcik at the helm, and boasts an 19-4 record at Jordan Field.

Hot Start

Harvard is 4-0 for the second-straight year. The Crimson started 4-0 a year ago, tied for its best start since going 5-0 to begin the 2000 season. In the 126 years of the program's history, this marked only the sixth time that Harvard had started 4-0. The best start in program history came in 1961 when the team opened with a 10-0 start.  

Against Top Talent
Harvard has defeated 15 ranked opponents under head coach Chris Wojcik '96, including five wins over top-10 teams. The Crimson defeated three ranked teams last season. 

Just Cheeky
Junior Morgan Cheek returns for 2017 after scoring 36 goals and dishing out 24 assists for 60 points in 16 games a year ago. To start the year, Cheek owns 27 points on 16 goals and 11 assists, posting a 22-game point streak.

Scouting the Nittany Lions
Penn State, checking in at No. 3 in both the coaches and media polls, owns a 6-0 record heading into Saturday, including wins against Ivy foes Cornell and Penn. Freshman Mac O'Keefe and sophomore Grant Ament pace the team with 29 points apiece, as O'Keefe has found the back of the net 26 times and Ament owns 14 goals and 15 assists. Penn State's starting attack line has accounted for 47 goals and 79 points.

In his seventh season in State College, head coach Jeff Tambroni ranks ninth among all active Division I coaches in career win percentage and was the 2009 USILA Coach of the Year and served as the men's national team assistant coach in 2014.

Inside the Series – Penn State
2016 Record            8-7, 2-3 Big Ten
USILA Div. I Coaches Poll     3
Cascade/Maverik Media Poll          3
All-Time Series          Harvard leads, 2-1
Streak             L1
Last Harvard Win      12-9, 3/7/15
Last Penn State Win 13-12 (OT), 3/12/16


Tale of the Tape


Penn State

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Now in Goal
Robert Shaw owns an 12-8 career record in goal, with three of his victories coming in overtime. The junior, who started every game a year ago, sports a .548 career save percentage while allowing 10.39 goals against. He made double-digit saves in 14 games and at least 15 saves in five games over his career.

NCAA Championships Host
The NCAA, Gillette Stadium and Harvard University announced that the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships will be played at Gillette Stadium, the home of the National Football League's New England Patriots and Major League Soccer's New England Revolution. The Division I, II and III Men's Lacrosse Championships, as well as the Women's Lacrosse Division I Lacrosse Championships, will be played over Memorial Day Weekend, on May 27-29 in 2017 and on May 26-28 in 2018.

The agreement marks the fourth and fifth times the championships will be held at Gillette Stadium, where the event has enjoyed a history of tremendous success. In 2008, Gillette Stadium set attendance records for the Division I final (48,970) and the Division II and III finals (24,317).

Harvard has teamed with the NCAA several times in recent years to host NCAA championship events. In addition to hosting the 2008, 2009, and 2012 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships, Harvard served as host for the 2006 women's basketball Final Four at the TD Bank Garden, the 2010 fencing championships at Gordon Indoor Track, and the 2013 women's water polo championships at Blodgett Pool.

20-Plus Goal Scorers
Harvard boasted four goal scorers with 20-plus goals last season (Devin Dwyer, 40; Morgan Cheek, 36; Will Walker, 23; Joe Lang, 22). It marked the second-consecutive year that the Crimson completed the feat. Previously under Chris Wojcik '96, the Crimson had never had more than two goal scorers with 20-plus goals in a season.

Dwyer and Cheek were the first Crimson teammates to score 30-plus goals in a season since Jeff Cohen '12 and Dean Gibbons '11 scored 31 goals and 30 goals, respectively, in 2011.

In the Polls
Harvard is receiving votes in both polls this week. Last season, the Crimson ranked as high as No. 8 in the Coaches Poll, its highest ranking since finishing the 1996 campaign ranked sixth. Head coach Chris Wojcik '96 captained that year's team to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, earning All-America honorable mention and first team All-Ivy League accolades along the way. 

Working Overtime
The Crimson opened last season with three-straight overtime wins. Based on available information, this is only the second time in NCAA history that a team has won three-consecutive overtime games, matching Fairfield who completed the feat in 2012. Harvard has played a total of four overtime games this season, the most in program history. 

Preseason Honors
Joe Lang and Morgan Cheek were each named Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-Americans, tabbed as honorable mentions. Lang (first), Cheek and Coleman (second) were also named to the NEILA preseason teams.

In the Pros
Stephen Jahelka and Devin Dwyer were selected in the 2016 Major League Lacrosse Draft. The duo became the seventh and eighth players, respectively, drafted from Harvard entering their senior years. 

Jahelka was selected in the second round, 14th overall, by the Denver Outlaws, matching Kevin Vaughn '12, who was also taken 14th overall by the Outlaws, for the highest draft slot by a Harvard student-athlete. Jahelka was traded to the New York Lizards in April. 

Dwyer was selected in the sixth round, 46th overall, by the Florida Launch. This marked the first time since 2012 that multiple Crimson were in the same draft class.

The duo joins former Harvard standouts Brian Fischer '15 (2015 draft 34th overall, Boston Cannons), Daniel Eipp '14 (2014 draft 32nd overall, Rochester Rattlers), Kevin Vaughn '12 (2012 draft 14th overall, Denver Outlaws), Daniel DiMaria '12 (2012 draft 41st overall, Charlotte Hounds), Jason Duboe '10 (2010 draft 33rd overall, Boston Cannons) and Henry Flood '07 (2007 draft 32nd overall, Washington Bayhawks) in the MLL ranks.

Close Calls
Harvard is 14-17 in games decided by one goal under Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse, including a 5-4 record in overtime.

Team USA
Associate head coach Ben DeLuca was named as the assistant general manager for the 2018 Men's National Lacrosse Team. The team will pursue a record 10th gold medal at the 2018 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship in Manchester, England. 

Howdy Myers Man of the Year
Bob Scalise, The John D. Nichols '53 Family Director of Athletics, was selected as the 2015 recipient of the Howdy Myers Man of the Year Award by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA). The award is given to someone who has contributed to the game of lacrosse in a capacity over and above the normal efforts and in so doing, has shown unselfish and untiring devotion to the game. The award itself is named in honor of Howdy Myers, who coached 17 championship teams at St. Paul's, Johns Hopkins, and Hofstra and was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1971. 

Scalise spent his playing days at Brown, where he received All-New England and All-Ivy honors. At Brown, Scalise also set an NCAA record of 11 goals in one game, a mark that still sits atop the record books today. Scalise became the head coach of the Harvard men's lacrosse team in 1975. Through 13 seasons he led the Crimson to a 98-77 overall record, one Ivy League championship, and the program's first NCAA tournament appearance. During his tenure, he coached 25 All-Americans and 39 All-Ivy League honorees. Scalise was appointed as Harvard's Athletic Director in 2001. Under Scalise, the Crimson has hosted three NCAA Lacrosse Championships at Gillette Stadium (2008, 2009, 2012). Scalise is the current chair of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Rule Committee and a former member of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament Selection Committee. He was inducted into the US Lacrosse Eastern Massachusetts Hall of Fame on July 11, 2015.