Third Quarter Barrage Leads No. 18 Harvard Over Dartmouth, 8-5

HANOVER, N.H. – After being down the entire first half, the No. 18 Harvard men’s lacrosse team scored four straight goals in the third quarter and held on for an 8-5 win over Dartmouth Saturday afternoon at Scully-Fahey Field in the regular season finale for both teams.

Harvard ran its record to 8-5 on the season, the most wins since 2002, and finished fourth in the Ivy with a 3-3 record. Freshman Jeff Cohen scored three goals on the afternoon and finished with 34 on the season, ranking him ninth in season annals for the Crimson. Senior Joe Pike made 11 saves in net, while senior Nick Smith tallied a team-high five ground balls.

Dartmouth (4-11, 1-5 Ivy) earned the first lead of the game at 11:32 of the first quarter when Josh Gillam found the back of the net. Dartmouth went back on offense a few minutes later, as Brian Koch scored at 8:14 for a 2-0 lead. Harvard, though, would score two in just over a minute to tie it up at 2-2 at the end of the first quarter.

Senior Max Motschwiller tallied his 10th of the season at 1:36 after a Dartmouth turnover, and after Harvard gained possession following the face-off, freshman Terry White fed Cohen for the equalizer with 31 seconds left in the quarter.

The Big Green went on offense to open the second quarter and extended the lead back to two. Gillam, with an assist from Koch, put one past Pike at 13:26, and after a penalty was called on the Crimson, Koch scored a man-up goal at 11:48 off an assist from Ari Sussman for a 4-2 lead.

After Dartmouth called a timeout, Harvard continued to press on offense until Cohen and White hooked up for the second time on the day, with Cohen putting a shot past the Big Green’s Pat Marshall at 7:54. The teams went into the locker room with Dartmouth leading, 4-3.

Harvard led in shots, 15-13, ground balls, 13-12, and face-offs, 6-of-9, at the half and was good on 7-of-8 clear attempts.

The Crimson offense began to catch fire to open the second half, as Harvard scored four straight goals in the third quarter to take a three-goal lead. Junior Travis Burr opened the scoring less than a minute into action, as he took a feed from Motschwiller and tied it up at 14:13. Cohen gave the Crimson its first lead of the game with an unassisted tally at 11:41, and sophomore Dean Gibbons followed at 9:18, taking a pass from freshman Kevin Vaughan and scoring a man-up goal for a 6-4 lead.

After the teams went back and forth on offense, Gibbons scored at 1:23 of the third quarter with an assist by Burr as the Crimson went into the fourth quarter sporting a 7-4 lead.

Neither team could find the back of the net to open the fourth quarter until Dartmouth scored its first goal of the second half at 6:47, when Rhett Miller used a Christopher Root pass to trim the lead to two at 7-5. Motschwiller would answer almost two minutes later, though, posting a score at 4:52 to get the lead back to three at 8-5. Dartmouth was unable to get a shot past Pike the rest of the way.

Harvard held a slim, 27-26, margin in shots, and trailed in ground balls, 28-27, for the game. The Crimson was successful on 18-of-22 clear attempts, won 11-of-17 face-offs and was successful on its only man-up opportunity.

Harvard will await its fate in the NCAA Tournament tomorrow at 9 p.m., during the 2009 men’s selection show on ESPNU.