Home Opener Saturday as Men’s Lacrosse Faces UMass

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
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Harvard vs. UMass
Saturday, Feb. 25
1 p.m.
Jordan Field
Live Stats
Harvard (2-0, 0-0 Ivy)
UMass (0-2, 0-0 CAA)
Harvard trails, 15-32
W, 10-9 (OT)
Harvard vs. UMass

The Storyline
Harvard men's lacrosse opens its home campaign – and the first of three-straight on Jordan Field – Saturday, Feb. 25 against Massachusetts. First face off is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network.

What to Watch For
• Through two games, Morgan Cheek owns 12 points, sitting ninth in the country in points per game.

• Three players have tallied hat tricks this season, Morgan Cheek (twice, against UMass Lowell and Holy Cross) and Ryan Graff and Joe Lang against UML.

• 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. 

• Junior goalie Robert Shaw earned the start in the first two games after making double-digit saves in 12 games last season.

• The Crimson has won its season opener in each of the last three years. 

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.

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

Last Time Out
A hat trick from junior Morgan Cheek pushed the Crimson to a 12-9 win over Holy Cross Tuesday evening at Kuzniewski Field. Cheek scored three-plus goals for the second-straight game, adding two assists to move his point total to 12 for the year. Junior midfielder Sean Coleman and freshman Nigel Andrews added two apiece, while rookie Ryan Graff dished out two assists.

Fresh Faces
Three rookies have earned starts this year, as Ryan Graff and David Strupp both started each of the first two games. Rookies account for 12 of the 43 points scored this year. In total, eight 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 2-0 when scoring 10-plus.

Home Field Advantage
Harvard is 31-14 at home under Chris Wojcik '96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men's Lacrosse, including a 4-2 record last year. The Crimson is 13-10 in Harvard Stadium with Wojcik at the helm, and boasts an 18-4 record at Jordan Field. 

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 12 points on seven goals and five assists, posting a 20-game point streak. 

Scouting the Minutemen  
UMass sits at 0-2 after losses to Army, 9-2, and No. 20 Ohio State, 8-7. The Minutemen are just 12-of-34 from the faceoff X, scoring 4.5 goals per game. Ben Spencer leads the pack with three goals, as Tyler Bogart has added two more. Between the pipes is D.J. Smith, who has made 22 saves and owns an 8.5 goals against average.

Recognized as one of the nation's top lacrosse coaches, Greg Cannella is in his 23rd year at the helm of UMass. Cannella has coached his Minutemen to eight NCAA Tournaments, claimed seven New England Championships, won five conference titles and guided the Minutemen to a No. 1 national ranking.

Inside the Series – UMass
2016 Record            4-9, 0-5 CAA
USILA Div. I Coaches Poll     NA
Cascade/Maverik Media Poll          NA
All-Time Series          Harvard trails, 15-32
Streak             W2
Last Harvard Win      10-9 (OT), 2/27/16
Last UMass Win       8-4, 2/22/14 

Tale of the Tape



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Now in Goal
Robert Shaw owns an 10-8 career record in goal, with three of his victories coming in overtime. The junior, who started every game a year ago, sports a .531 career save percentage while allowing 10.61 goals against. He made double-digit saves in 12 games and at least 15 saves in four 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. 

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.  

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.  

Hot Start
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.   

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.