No. 17 Princeton trailed the entire game, except in the end when it counted the most taking the game and the win in a rainy OT thriller finish 9-8. Tiger Goalie Alex Hewit saved his best save for last stunning the home team and stripping Harvard of the precious game-winning possession. Senior Captain Bob Schneider rifled a shot in at 1:53 that punctuated a game full of last period drama and corner shots to close the deal. Harvard’s Francis Ellis and Jason Duboe combined for four points.
Princeton had a great game on paper. The Tigers out shot Crimson 37-27. They out hustled Crimson on the ground 24-18. Princeton had every line item lead: face-offs 15-21, clears 12/13-15/19, and turnovers 11 (P) to 13 (H). So what was to account for Harvard’s lead for most of the game? It was that immeasurable soft stat of game momentum shifts. Perhaps the Tigers were being outplayed or they weren’t playing to their potential, the painful punch line was delivered late at the last minute.
Harvard went up 3-0 and held it for nearly 12 minutes. Harvard’s first scoring possession was thoughtful and far more improved from their last performance versus fellow Ivy rival Cornell. Crimson gave away their hand early playing the end line ref like a puppet, who like an animated figurine on a cuckoo clock, would repeat ‘Keep it in.’ The Harvard strategy of running out the clock would come back to haunt them later in the game when they worked hard to protect their lead versus playing to win.
Francis Ellis was the first to get Harvard on the board with an iso-fake dodge going with the righty overhand and banking a tight top right shot (1-0). Crimson scored again with a goal from Nick Sapia who went past Hewit again with an upper right shot of an inside roll (2-0). Harvard’s unexpected command of ball play was recognized with a Princeton timeout.
Most of Harvard’s goals were outside shots and it seemed like for a majority of the game Princeton was a couple of passes away from an open look on cage. As Harvard’s margin started to increase, and as Harvard was able to control the timing and pacing, the question mark remained, could Harvard pull off the win? It had been 18 years since Harvard beat Princeton. The possibility made the game more exciting. Harvard played a solid first half.
But Princeton would comeback. It started off slowly and progressed slowly, but sure enough one by one, chipped away. The first goal from Princeton came from a right sidearm crank from Jack McBride off an assist from Schneider at 2:47 (1-3). Harvard responded with a goal from Brooks Scholl off an assist from Travis Burr (4-1) at :18.
Harvard and Princeton were tied in the second period 2-2. Harvard’s Eric Posner got called for the slash giving Princeton an EMO. The Tiger’s EMO-goal came off the stick of Schneider. Peter Striebel dished off the ball from X setting up Schneider with yet another sidearm top shelf crank (2-4). This time Princeton would return the man-up favor. Josh Lesko was called for cross-checking. Zach Widbin passed the ball of to Jason Duboe who finished with an overhand lower right corner (5-2). Princeton answered with a low to high goal from Schneider off an assist from Tommy Davis (3-5) at 5:32. Harvard scored the last goal of the half off of Max Motschwiller’s stick. Motschwiller got the ball from Jesse Fehr moving into the hole right and finishing with a righty overhand bouncer nearside pipe (6-3) with only :13 on the clock.
The third period was even a tighter race 1-1. Alex Berg won the face-off, but neither team could capitalize on possession until Harvard’s Ellis scored at 5:30 sweeping across the cage with the power overhand 7-3. Princeton stayed within three with a goal from Charlie Kolkin (4-7).
Princeton out shot Harvard 14-3 and out scored them 4-1 in the fourth period. Both teams saved the drama for the last period and summoned the weather to follow, an appropriate crescendo to the day’s events. The noon women’s game was sunny, bright, and hot. As the men took to the field, the clouds rolled in and the temperatures cooled, but like the game play there would be intermittent bright spots.
The Tigers came out strong in the fourth quarter with two goals, a righty quick stick from Alex Haynie and a bouncer from Davis. Davis’ goal off an assist from Striebel put the Tigers within a one-goal striking distance, but Harvard would go up by one. The rain came in hard sending all the fans into the sheltered upper decks. Jeff Wannop scored for Harvard with an overhanded bouncer giving Harvard the temporary two-point lead (8-6). Davis scored off an assist from Striebel at 2:04. Davis cut in hard from up high to put in the quick stick bouncer (7-8). Schneider scored the tying goal less than a minute later off an assist from Rich Sgalardi sending the game into sudden death.
The rain would go in and out and alternate between a drizzle and downpour. It was hard to read any rhythm to the events or to make any predictions of the outcome. Harvard came up big with the first possession in OT getting a shot by Duboe at 3:03. The shot went wide. Harvard got possession again this time setting up a wide-open shot in front of cage. Hewit, who had been having an ‘ok’ game, saved his best for last neutralizing Harvard’s last effort at a win. Hewit came out with the save and the clear. Princeton called a timeout. Princeton’s Rich Sgalardi found Schneider up high. Schneider stunned everyone with a side arm crank that went past goalie Joe Pike high. Princeton 9 Harvard 8.
Princeton advances 3-0 in Ivy play while Harvard drop 0-3. Princeton is tied with Cornell, Brown, and Princeton for first. Princeton will match up against Cornell next Saturday while Harvard will face Brown on Wed.
Harvard vs. Princeton