Gambitsky turned away 11 shots in his first start since 2012 (Gil Talbot).
AMHERST, Mass. – The Harvard men's lacrosse team played right with No. 14/15 UMass through nearly three quarters on Saturday, but the Minutemen took hold of the game late to spoil the Crimson's season opener, 8-4.
Peter Schwartz registered three points with two goals and one assist to lead the Harvard (0-1) attack while Brendan Newman and Ian Ardrey provided one goal piece. Sean Mahon and Sean McDonagh were each credited with an assist.
The Crimson defense held UMass (3-0) in check for most of the game, allowing just three Minutemen goals through 42 minutes of play. Jake Gambitsky finished the afternoon with 11 saves against the eight goals allowed, with Eric Slingerland's five ground balls pacing the defensive unit. Jack Breit, Bobby Duvnjak, Stephen Jahelka and Brian O'Toole each forced one turnover.
UMass controlled the pace of play by winning 11-of-16 faceoffs and holding a 27-13 advantage in ground balls. Nick Mariano spearheaded the Minutemen attack with three goals scored and was complemented by a three-point performance by Grant Whiteway (1g, 2a). Zach Oliveri made 14 saves in goal for UMass.
UMass took the early 1-0 advantage as Connor Mooney scooped up a rebound and put one past Gambitsky just 1:28 in. Schwartz evened the game with a shot from 15 yards out, and Harvard looked to take its first lead late in the quarter. Murphy Vandervelde's shot from the right of the goal was saved by Oliveri, however, and the Minutemen capitalized in transition with a tally from defenseman James Fahey to take a 2-1 edge.
Mariano used an inside roll to evade Joe Petrucci and notch UMass' third goal of the day early in the second quarter. Brandan Newman cut the deficit to 3-2 off a feed from Sean McDonagh, burying a shot from the top of the box. Harvard nearly capitalized on a Matt Whippen turnover to re-tie the score, but Daniel Eipp's shot was handled by Oliveri, giving possession back to the Minutemen. The Crimson had another opportunity to even things up after Gambitsky turned away an attempt by Andrew Sokol, and this time Ardrey came through. The sophomore received a pass from Schwartz just in front of the goal, and tiptoed along the crease to beat Oliveri over his left shoulder knot things up, 3-3.
The Minutemen won 7-of-8 faceoffs through the first 30 minutes of play and collected 14 ground balls despite holding just a 16-15 advantage in shots.
Harvard's defense stood tall early in the third quarter, with O'Toole forcing a turnover and Gambitsky making a clean save on a Grant Consoletti attempt. The Crimson was later able to kill a Brian Fischer slashing penalty thanks to another Gambitsky save, and a fourth save by the junior off a failed clear attempt by the Crimson kept the Minutemen off the scoreboard. UMass finally broke through, however, when Mariano was able to pick up the rebound off a Mooney shot attempt in front of the crease. The Minutemen took a two-goal lead, 5-3, capitalizing off a Harvard turnover before the quarter break.
UMass tacked on two more goals quickly in the fourth, taking a 7-3 margin with 13:49 remaining. Schwartz got one of the goals back with his second tally of the day, but Mariano answered right back to regain the four-goal advantage. The Crimson had four shots turned away by Oliveri following the Mariano goal, and was unable to close the gap late as the Minutemen held on for the 8-4 victory.
Harvard returns to action Tuesday, Feb. 25 when it opens its home slate against Holy Cross at Soldiers Field Lacrosse Stadium. Faceoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. live on the Ivy League Digital Network.