NCAA Team Reviews: Harvard Crimson

Photo credit to Harvard Athletic Communications (Gil Talbot)
Photo credit to Harvard Athletic Communications (Gil Talbot)

For the better part of four months, many of us watched some exciting college lacrosse, whether it was on TV, online, or in person.  There were good games, which included all of Championship Weekend, and there were bad games, such as low scoring affairs and of course, the horrendous winter weather.  I take a look back at all 69 Division I teams and how they fared this season and what to look forward to in 2016.

Check out previous recaps: NJIT Highlanders, UMass Lowell River Hawks, VMI Keydets, Manhattan Jaspers, Canisius Golden Griffins, Robert Morris Colonials, St. John’s Red Storm, Wagner Seahawks, Binghamton Bearcats, Bellarmine Knights, Jacksonville Dolphins, Furman Paladins, Lafayette Leopards, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, Siena Saints, Delaware Blue Hens, UMBC Retrievers, Dartmouth Big Green, Providence Friars, Mercer Bears, Penn State Nittany Lions, Hofstra Pride, Michigan Wolverines, UMass Minutemen, Monmouth Hawks, Vermont Catamounts, Sacred Heart Pioneers, Holy Cross Crusaders, Penn Quakers, Villanova Wildcats, Boston Terriers, Quinnipiac Bobcats, Hartford Hawks, Hobart Statesmen, Lehigh Mountain Hawks, Drexel Dragons


2014 Record 10-7
2014 Conference Record 5-1 (1st in Ivy)
2014 Scoring Offense 10.71 Goals Per Game (22nd in DI)
2014 Scoring Defense 9.76 Goals Against Per Game (30th in DI)
2014 Goals Leader #8 Will Walker – Sophomore (35 Gs)
2014 Assists Leader #3 Devin Dwyer – Sophomore (35 As)
2014 Points Leader #3 Devin Dwyer – Sophomore (47 Pts)
2014 Goaltending Leader #4 Jake Gambitsky – Junior (.506 SV %)
2014 Face-Off Leader #34 Gabriel Mendola – Senior (.524 FO %)
2014 Ground Balls Leader #34 Gabriel Mendola – Senior (60 GBs)
2014 Caused Turnovers Leader #33 Brian O’Toole – Senior (20 CTs)
2014 Quality Wins Cornell (14-9), Yale (10-9 – Ivy League Semifinal)
2014 Bad Losses UNC (13-10), Penn (7-5 – Ivy League Championship)


2015 Record 7-7
2015 Conference Record 2-4 (6th in Ivy)
2015 Scoring Offense 12.29 Goals Per Game (10th in DI)
2015 Scoring Defense 12.29 Goals Against Per Game (62nd in DI)
2015 Goals Leader #41 Deke Burns – Junior (26 Gs)
2015 Assists Leader #3 Devin Dwyer – Junior (29 As)
2015 Points Leader #3 Devin Dwyer – Junior (49 Pts)
2015 Goaltending Leader #15 Bryan Moore – Junior (.541 SV %)
2015 Face-Off Leader #29 Austin Williams – Sophomore (.455 FO %)
2015 Ground Balls Leader #29 Austin Williams – Sophomore (56 GBs)
2015 Caused Turnovers Leader #4 Matt Ryan – Sophomore (25 CTs)
2015 Quality Wins Cornell (10-9), Yale (8-7)
2015 Bad Losses Dartmouth (12-11 2 OT), Penn (10-9)


The Crimson had many of their returning offensive players back in 2015, putting them in the top 10 in offenses in the nation. But although most of the defense returned, they were a different story. Harvard’s defense was ranked 62nd out of 69 teams in 2015, which definitely cost the team some close games this season. The Crimson went 7-7 after an appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season at 10-7. But with an Ivy League that had it’s usual suspects as well as rising power Brown, the Crimson were one of the teams looking from the outside when the Ivy League Tournament came approaching.

Harvard started the season with a tight 14-13 win over UMass after trailing by three early in the fourth. But the Crimson got a hard test when they fell to back-to-back defending champion Duke 21-14. Harvard got three straight wins against Quinnipiac, Penn State, and Holy Cross before entering Ivy play against Brown. The high-powered offense from the Bears was too much to handle for the Crimson, and was the start of a four game losing streak. They dropped games against UNC, a shocking double-overtime affair against Dartmouth, and finally against another high-powered offense in Albany before facing off against Cornell. Devin Dwyer’s tally with 32 ticks left gave the Crimson an upset over the Big Red, followed by another one-goal victory, thank again to Dwyer, against Boston. But their last three games didn’t go so well, with losses against Penn and Princeton, before notching a season finale win against archrival Yale to end their disappointing season.

Harvard will have an incredible offense next season, losing nobody that contributed heavily in 2015. But the defense will need to improve vastly in order for Harvard to get back to the NCAA Tournament in 2016. They’ll only lose LSM Brian Fischer and goaltender Jake Gambitsky next season. And a strong defense will be mandatory with teams such as Brown, Princeton, and Yale with very good offenses next season.


Jonathan Butler Defense Pingry School (NJ)
Connor McCroskey Attack Bishop’s School (CA)
Spencer Daniel LSM Salisbury School (CT)
James Sullivan Midfield/FO Garden City (NY)
Larsen Bidstrup Attack Governor’s Academy (MA)
Marc-Antoine Pion Defense/LSM IMG Academy (FL)
Jack Corbett Goalie Hotchkiss School (CT)

The Crimson will replace four seniors with seven new recruits for 2016. Although the number is small, the quality of these recruits is tremendous. Defenseman Marc-Antoine Pion is Ty Xanders’ 63rd top recruit in the nation, and was also in Friday’s All-American Game. Attackmen Larsen Bidstrup and Connor McCroskey are 53rd and 49th on that same list respectively and will carry some offense to Harvard’s already stacked squad. Goaltender Jack Corbett was ranked 23rd on Xanders’ list and played for the North squad in Friday’s All-American Game, along with fifth ranked faceoff specialist James Sullivan. The FOGO from Garden City is considered the best FOGO recruit in the nation, and Harvard, who went just about 45 percent on draws from sophomore Austin Williams, will boost their face-offs proficiently with the addition of Sullivan. And one more thing, Ben DeLuca comes over after two years as a volunteer assistant as Associate Head Coach and was the former commander at Cornell. He’ll be most likely working with the Crimson defense after working with the Duke defense for two seasons. I think Harvard will start 2016 inside the preseason top 20 and will be a mainstay for the majority of the season, that is if the defense bends but doesn’t break.