In its 91st meeting with longtime rival Harvard, the Cornell men’s lacrosse team used a strong fourth quarter to get the win, 12-9, for the first winning streak of the season.
Harvard (5-5, 1-2 Ivy) was first to find the back of the net through Ryan Graff, only to see its advantage erased three minutes later. The Red (3-6, 2-2) and the Crimson continued to trade goals, as Harvard took a 3-2 lead at the end of the first stanza.
Harvard began to pull away early in the second as it scored three unanswered goals to pull away 5-2. But as soon as it looked as if the Crimson was taking control of the game, the Red fired in three unanswered of its own to enter the half tied.
The Red came out flying, scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the second half and giving itself a two goal lead. Harvard responded quickly with a goal of their own to cut it to 7-6. Yet the remainder of the quarter was goalless.
“The guys responded really well coming out of halftime,” said head coach Matt Kerwick. “We came out feeling confident that we could make a little bit of a run for ourselves because we felt like we were out playing them.”
The fourth quarter is what defined this game for the Red. After trading goals in the first five minutes of the quarter, the Red went on a scoring frenzy, burying four unanswered goals for a resounding 12-7 lead.
“We knew if we just kept doing what we were doing that we could run [Harvard] in the fourth quarter, and that is exactly what they did,” Kerwick said.
The Red held off Harvard’s late push thanks to freshman Paul Rasimowicz, who won seven of eight of his faceoffs in the final period. That included six straight wins, effectively keeping Harvard on the defensive for the final 10 minutes.
The Crimson reduced the deficit to three goals, but the Red ultimately was victorious over its long time conference rival, 12-9. The win marked Kerwick’s first win over Harvard since taking over the head coaching role in 2014.
Freshmen Connor Fletcher and Jeff Teat headed up Cornell’s offensive storm against Harvard. Fletcher totaled four points on the night, while Teat, who ranks seventh in the country in assists per game (2.38), tallied five of his own.
“We are starting to hit our stride right now,” Kerwick said. “That’s why we play the schedule we do, because we want to be playing our best when we hit our Ivy games”.
The Red will look to ride its momentum as it takes on No. 2 Syracuse this upcoming Tuesday — only a little more than 72 hours after the Harvard match.
The turnaround for the team is much shorter than it is accustomed to, but Kerwick believes in his team and is ready for the players to show what it means to be a Cornell men’s lacrosse player.
“I can’t think of anything better to play against one of the best teams in the country year in and year out,” he said. “As a player, facing off against a top team with little prep time is something you truly have to embrace and enjoy.”
Facing Syracuse away will be one of the toughest matches for the Red this year. While the young team is settling into the season, its must reduce all unforced errors if they intend to come out victorious.
Play gets underway from the Carrier Dome Tuesday, April 11, at 7 p.m.