DURHAM, N.C. – The Crimson opened its season in dramatic fashion Sunday, as the men’s lacrosse team toppled No. 5 Duke, 9-6, at Koskinen Stadium. Harvard led 3-1 at the midway point and never looked back as the team earned its first victory over a top-10 opponent under John Tillman, the Frisbie Family Head Coach for Harvard Men’s Lacrosse, who is in his second year at helm of the Crimson.
Harvard freshman Jeff Cohen led all scorers with a hat trick and an assist for four points in his collegiate debut, while Travis Burr netted two goals and Max Motschwiller had a goal and two assists. Eric Posner grabbed six ground balls, and Sam Slaughter and Andrew Parchman had four apiece.
In net, Joe Pike made nine saves in 59:55 and held Duke scoreless in the second quarter, helping Harvard begin the year 1-0, while the Blue Devils fall to 2-1. The Crimson held Duke to its fewest goals scored since 2005. Goalie Rob Schroeder had 10 stops between the pipes for Duke.
"Today's win was about being prepared and executing our game plan," Tillman said. "Coach (Kevin) Warne did a great job getting the defense ready to play today. A bunch of guys stepped up for us on offense and we made the best of our opportunities."
The Blue Devils tallied the first quarter’s only goal at 11:56 as Steve Schoeffel capitalized on an unassisted chance. After being shut out early on, Harvard controlled play in the second quarter, as the team got three shots past Schroeder and into the cage. Cohen jumped right into the action in his debut and got the Crimson on the scoreboard with a goal at 11:09 after he received a pass from Motschwiller.
Just 28 seconds later, Cohen gave Harvard its first lead of the day as he blasted a shot on a man-up opportunity at the 10:41 mark. With five minutes remaining in the half, Nick Sapia collected his second straight assist on a man-up chance, as he fed Burr for a goal, giving the Crimson a 3-1 lead entering the half. After the first 30 minutes, Harvard led in shots, 24-7, at the half, including a 12-3 advantage in the second quarter.
Duke battled back early on in the third to tie the game on back-to-back scores by Brad Ross and Max Quinzani. With 4:41 left to play in the stanza, Jason Duboe began a stretch of four straight tallies by the Crimson to end the quarter. Cohen completed his hat trick with an unassisted goal at 3:40, followed by another tally by Burr at 1:54. Motschwiller followed with the eventual game-winner with only nine ticks left in the third, giving Harvard a 7-3 lead with only 15 minutes left to play.
Ned Crotty cut the Crimson lead to 7-4 with an early score in the fourth, but Jesse Fehr gave Harvard its second four-goal lead off a pass from Cohen at 10:39. Duke rattled off two more goals at 5:08 and 2:05 by Ross and Schoeffel. Jeff Wannop capped the scoring with Harvard’s ninth tally when he dumped the ball behind Schroeder with five second remaining in the game.
The Crimson held the final count in shots, 45-29, and won 10-of-17 faceoffs on the afternoon. Harvard was also successful on 19-of-21 clear attempts, including a perfect 10-for-10 mark in the first half of play.
The Crimson will remain on the road to face Stony Brook Saturday, Feb. 28 at 3 p.m.
Photos: Mark Abbott