Harvard Hosts UMass on Saturday

The Crimson is in search of its first Ivy title in 24 years Saturday

The Storyline
Coming off an Ivy League title and NCAA tournament appearance in 2014, the No. 12/13 Harvard men’s lacrosse team will open its 2015 season versus UMass on Saturday, Feb. 21. Faceoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. live on the Ivy League Digital Network. The Crimson will return to action Monday, Feb. 23 at Holy Cross for a 4 p.m. faceoff.

Saturday’s contest will mark the third straight year that Harvard has played UMass in its first game of the season, and the 46th-consecutive year that the regional rivals have squared off.

Rank and File
The Crimson will begin the 2015 campaign as one of the nation’s elite Division-I programs, having received top-20 rankings in both major polls.  Harvard is ranked 12th in the USILA Div. I Coaches Poll, and 12th in the Cascade/Maverik Div. I Media Top 20.  Eight of Harvard’s 2015 opponents are also ranked or receiving votes in the polls, including four Ivy League programs.

Bringing Home The Hardware
Harvard earned a share of the 2014 Ivy League Championship, the fourth Ancient Eight title in program history and first in 24 years. The Crimson finished the season off with a 10-7 overall record and 5-1 mark in conference, matching Cornell for the top spot in the Ivy League.

The Crimson last won the conference in 1990 under former head coach Scott Anderson, going 12-3 overall and 5-1 against the Ivies en route to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. Harvard also won the conference in 1980 under current John D. Nichols ’53 Family Director of Athletics Bob Scalise, and earned the program’s first Ancient Eight title in 1964 under Bruce Munro.

Home Field Advantage
Harvard is 22-10 at home under Chris Wojcik ’96, The Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men’s Lacrosse, including a 7-1 record in 2014. The Crimson is 11-8 in Harvard Stadium with Wojcik at the helm, and boasts an 11-2 record at Soldiers Field Lacrosse Stadium.

Preseason Plaudits
Bobby Duvnjak, Brian Fischer and Devin Dwyer were each named Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-Americans. Duvnjak and Fischer were each selected to the second team, while Dwyer received third team honors.

Additionally, five Crimson were recognized on the Preseason All-NEILA first team while Harvard was chosen first in the NEILA Preseason Poll; Duvnjak, Dwyer, Fischer, Stephen Jahelka and Sean Mahon.

Annual Meeting With Harvard Awaits Minutemen Saturday
Men’s lacrosse travels cross-state to No. 12 Crimson in Cambridge, Mass.

Scouting Harvard Men’s Lacrosse
Harvard, the No. 12 team in the nation according to the USILA Coaches Top-20 Poll, begins its 2015 season with a Feb. 21 contest at Soldiers Field Soccer & Lacrosse Stadium in Cambridge, Mass., against the University of Massachusetts. The Crimson are coming off of a 10-7 finish to the 2014 campaign, when the squad reached the Ivy League Championship Game and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The squad returns three of its top four scorers from a season ago, including leading points producer Devin Dwyer (47 on 12 goals, 35 assists). Back alongside Dwyer are Will Walker (39 points on 35 goals, four assists) and Deke Burns (24-18-6) after the Crimson put up 298 points in 17 games last year, an average of 17.5 per game.

Jake Gambitsky served as the starting goalkeeper one season ago and helped the Crimson defense with a 9.87 goals-against average and .506 save percentage in nearly 1,009 minutes in the cage. Gambitsky played all but 12 minutes in goal last year and had 170 of the team’s 174 stops and all 17 decisions.

Head coach Chris Wojcik, a 1996 graduate of Harvard, is in his fifth season leading the team and 10th as a member of the coaching staff overall as he was also an assistant with the Crimson from 2002-07. Wojcik is 32-29 overall as the head coach at Harvard with one win over the Minutemen in four chances, an 11-9 Crimson victory on March 29, 2011.

Last Meeting: #14 UMass 8, Harvard 4; Feb. 22, 2014
Spurred on by second-half offense and a stifling defensive performance, No. 14/15 Massachusetts defeated Harvard in the 2014 home-opener for the Minutemen, 8-4. Nick Mariano earned his second consecutive hat trick as the freshman led both sides with three goals against the Crimson.

Tied at the half, 3-3, after Harvard scored back-to-back to close the second quarter, the Minutemen tallied the next four goals to secure the win. Mariano had his second of the game to put the team in front for good, 4-3 with two minutes, nine second left in the third. Grant Consoletti added his second strike of the year on a feed from Vincent Travaglini with four ticks left on the scoreboard to push the lead to 5-3.

Andrew Sokol and Grant Whiteway notched goals five seconds apart from one another during the second minute of play in the fourth to push the lead to 7-3. Zach Oliveri made 14 saves for the win while the Minutemen caused 12 Harvard turnovers, led by two apiece from James Fahey, Dylan Gruder, Connor Mooney and Austin Spencer.