Men's Lacrosse: Battle for Ivy Cellar Comes Down to Final Game

by Brad Limpert | 5/3/02 5:00am

John Travolta won't be there and the players won't be wearing bell-bottoms, but the men's lacrosse team will have its own little version of "Saturday Night Fever" tomorrow in Boston.

The Big Green (6-6, 0-5 Ivy) hits the road for its season finale under the lights at Harvard (7-7, 0-5 Ivy). While the Ivy League championship will be settled down the road between Brown and Princeton, don't tell either the Big Green or the Crimson that this game doesn't matter.

Saturday night's contest pits two teams searching for their first Ivy League win, trying to end their season with a winning record and not too mention the bitterness of the Harvard-Dartmouth rivalry.

If any team can sympathize with Dartmouth's roller coaster ride of a season, it would undoubtedly be Harvard. The Crimson opened its season with three straight wins before losing seven straight, including all five in Ivy League play.

Just when things couldn't be any worse, Harvard turned things around and has used a three-game winning streak to level its record at 7-7. That stretch included victories against Holy Cross and a pair of 7-6 decisions over Notre Dame and Colgate.

A duo of high-scoring attackmen, freshman Mike McBride and junior Matt Primm, lead the offensive front for Harvard. For his efforts against Holy Cross and Notre Dame, McBride is the current Ivy League Rookie of the Week. He had a goal and three assists against the Fighting Irish and now has 14 goals on the season.

Primm is the team's leading scorer with 17 goals and 18 assists, including the game winner in overtime against Notre Dame. Goalie Jake McKenna anchors the defense while Alex Vap has been dominating face-offs for the Crimson (winning 70 percent during the current winning streak and 54 percent on the season).

Dartmouth enters the game after what was arguably its best performance of the season. The 13-7 loss to the reigning national champions and fourth-ranked Princeton Tigers showed that the future of Big Green lacrosse has plenty of bright spots.

Tom Daniels '04 starred for Dartmouth with a hat trick and two assists against the Tigers, earning him a spot on the Ivy League's weekly honor roll. Casey Burlage '03 added two goals while Dave Farber '03 and Adam White '05 also chipped in with multi-point afternoons. Additionally, the class of 2002 is determined to end their careers with a win that can secure a winning season.

The Big Green remains optimistic that it is capable of building on last week's performance.

"If we continue that play this weekend, we will come out on top against Harvard," Andrew Goldstein '05 said. "We had a bunch of guys step up their games, and everyone else fought it out until the end."

Co-captain Connor Price '02 feels like the program can make a statement in the final game of his career.

"Our program is getting very close to that level and the way we played yesterday showed this," Price said after the Princeton loss. "Hopefully the way we played yesterday will carry over to our game next weekend down at Harvard."

Harvard leads the overall series 40-31-1 and has taken the last two contests against the Big Green. On the season, Dartmouth is 6-0 against unranked teams and 0-6 against teams ranked in the top 20.

Expect the Big Green to be more than capable of meeting the challenge from the unranked Crimson. Nobody likes to finish last. Someone will walk away from tomorrow night's game with their first Ivy League win and a winning season. Dartmouth is more than ready for that team to be itself, and to walk away celebrating a sweet conclusion to a hard-fought season.