No. 16 Harvard Hangs on to Edge No. 13 Yale

NEW HAVEN, Conn. There were 13.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter following a timeout. Mark Glicini had the ball running in from the sideline with Yale down a goal, looking to send the crucial Ivy League game to overtime. He suddenly spotted midfielder Shane Thornton cutting to the goal and hit him in stride. An extra session would have been the perfect way to finish off a crazy regular season, but Harvard goalie Jake Gambitsky stopped the shot from 15 feet away and ended the No. 13 Bulldogs' hope for a sixth straight win.

No. 16 Harvard, in a game it led most of the way, hung on for an 11-10 win in the regular-season finale to gain a share of the league title and host next weekend's Ivy Tournament.

Yale (9-4, 3-3 Ivy) can get revenge very quickly. The 8:00 p.m. Ivy League Tournament semifinal at Harvard Stadium next Friday features the No. 4 seed Elis against No. 1 Harvard. The other semi has league co-champion Cornell against Penn at 5:00 p.m.

The last five of these Y-H rivalry games have been decided by nine goals, so none of the 1,254 in attendance figured it would be anything but a close contest. It was on the stats sheet as well, despite the home team having a 43-32 edge in shots. Almost everything else was very close, including both sides going 3 for 7 with the extra man.

Those extra-man opportunities for Harvard may have been the difference in the game. Yale's four straight infractions in the second quarter helped the visitors gain separation and take a 7-5 lead at halftime. You could say the Elis never recovered from it, but they certainly gave the large crowd and a national TV audience (Fox College Sports) plenty of excitement.

The Bulldogs, the two-time defending Ivy tourney champs, erased that two-goal deficit and were down 9-6 midway through the third. That's when Conrad Oberbeck got two of his three goals, making great dodges and evasive moves to find small openings.

The Blue also had Eric Natale making four of his eight saves during a big defensive stand to allow his team to get back into it.

Yale senior Brandon Mangan (3 goals) set up Thornton for a pretty one-timer after a pin-point pass from behind the net with 1:35 left in the third to make the score 9-9. The Elis just couldn't seize all the momentum.

The Crimson scored at 11:36 and 8:53 to grab another two-goal cushion and their netminder came up with more huge saves. However, Jeff Cimbalista, the Yale freshman, scored off a Glicini feed with 42.8 seconds left.

Harvard grabbed the face-off on a violation and ended up with a shot blocked by a Yale defender and an illegal procedure call on the offense. That's what set up the Elis for the final quality chance at the equalizer.

The rematch next Friday airs live on ESPN3. The winners of the semis play on Sunday in a championship game carried by ESPNU.

* * * *

NEW HAVEN, Conn. The No. 16 Harvard lacrosse team did what no other Crimson team had done in 24 years on Saturday, as it clinched the program's first Ivy League championship since 1990 with an 11-10 win at No. 13 Yale.

Harvard will share the title with Cornell after the Big Red defeated Princeton today, 12-10, to match the Crimson's 5-1 conference record. By virtue of its victory over Cornell, however, the Crimson has earned the right to host next weekend's Ivy League Tournament which will begin Friday, May 2 at Harvard Stadium. The Big Red and Penn will meet in the first semifinal at 5:00 p.m., with a rematch between Harvard and Yale set for 8:00 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live on ESPN3.

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