2012 NCAA preview: #19 Harvard Crimson

Inside Lacrosse's #6 recruit Stephen Jahelka brings his talent to Harvard

In the next coming days and weeks College Crosse will be putting together some previews of Inside Lacrosse's 2012 Face-Off Yearbook top 20 rankings. Today we focus in on #19 on the list, Chris Wojcik's Crimson of Harvard.

Over the past two years the Ivy League has seen a resurgence as the competition in the league has grown. With five Ivy League teams in I.L.'s top 20 rankings and five players on pre-season first team All-American list, the league has become more of a two headed monster that was controlled by Cornell and Princeton for so long. WIth Brown and Dartmouth being more than competitive in 2011, and Yale and Penn making names for themselves, Harvard will have a tough in conference schedule in 2012, but its nothing Coach Wojcik isnt used to.

A 19-11 win over Denver in San Francisco highlighted an exciting fall that gave promise to many Crimson fan's that the 2012 team can score and defend against one of the better teams and players (Mark Matthews) in the country.

First off, its going to be tough to replace the quarterback of the offense, Dean Gibbons, who graduated with 213 career points, putting him in the top five in school history. In 2012, the offense will be run a little differently. The offense will be centered around seniors Kevin Vaughan and Jeff Cohen. Vaughan has the play maker ability but is a different player than Gibbons. Cohen is the quintessential finisher and may force Vaughan to dish the ball off a little more than he is used to.

Offense:

2011 top scorers:

12 dean gibbons a sr garden city, ny 30 28 58
23 jeff cohen a jr syosset, ny 31 2 33
8 kevin vaughan a jr ridgewood, nj 19 8 27
19 daniel eipp m fr groton, mass 16 7 23
20 terry white m jr summit, nj 15 7 22

Vaughan was a 2011 All Ivy League selection and one of three 2012 captains. He finished third in scoring in 2011 with 19 goals and 8 assists and has a knack for excelling against top teams, as was evident with his three goal performance against Cornell on April 9th. Cohen, had 31 goals, seven of which man-up goals which led the Ivy League. It may be a different feel to the offense in 2012, as Vaughan is a midfielder, so the offense wont be run entirely from the X like it was from 2008-2011. There will be a battle between juniors Peter Schwartz and Jack Walker for a final attack position, and talks about Daniel Eipp moving from midfield to attack have been thrown around.

The Crimson do have a good amount of young talent and proved they can score in 2011 as they averaged just under 11 goals per game. With returning players Eipp (16 goals, 7 assists) and Terry White (15g, 7a), Wojcik has a nice young crop of talent that can score goals. White is another captain in 2012. During a four game win streak in April, Harvard put up double digit goals in every game, highlighted by a 21 goal performance against Bellarmine.

Defense:

A lot of the talk around Harvard has been about freshman Stephen Jahelka. The 6'0", 195-lb long pole comes to the Crimson with a long list of accolades and a ton of talent. The number six recruit in the nation (according to Inside Lacrosse) and two time Under Armour All-American will step into one of the three slots on defense.

(Stephen Jahelka - 2011 Regular Season Highlights from Stephen Jahelka on Vimeo.)

Joining Jahelka on defense will be long stick midfielder Daniel Dimaria who caused 13 turnovers and scooped up 56 groundballs. Dimaria also added a goal and an assist. Senior Paul Pate will to be another choice for Wojcik on defense, as he has been chosen as one of the captains for 2012. Pate was an honorable mention All Ivy League player in 2011, as his 24 groundballs were fourth best a season ago among defensemen. Look for 6'1" Jason Gonos to round out the defense, as he caused 13 turnovers and grabbed 27 groundballs in 2011.

Junior Harry Kriger started all 16 games for Harvard in 2011 and finished with a .539 saver percentage, good for 22nd best in the country. His 19 saves against UMass were a giant reason why Harvard was able to pull off the 11-9 win back in April. In the Ivy League Championship, Kriger made 16 saves and gave the Crimson a chance against high powered Cornell, who went on to beat Harvard 15-6.

At the face-off X Harvard lost senior Andrew

Parchman, who was 31st in the country with a .518 win percentage from the X. Wojcik will look to sophomore Gabriel Mendola to fill the shoes that Parchman left behind. A 6'1", 212-lb former hockey player, Mendola went 75 for 128 in 2011, winning 59 percent of the face-off's he took.

2012 Outlook:


With the rebirth of the Ivy League comes more competition and a dog fight to get into one of the top four positions to make the Ivy League tournament. With Cornell leading the Ivy pack and Yale, Penn and Princeton following behind in the rankings, it will be another fun year in the Ivy League.

What does this mean for Harvard? It means i


ts not going to be an easy ride into the league tournament or to get an invite to the NCAA tourny. Can the Crimson fill the shoes of Gibbons? Will Jahelka be able to step right in as a freshman and lead that defense? Are the Crimson better than the four aforementioned teams and does Brown and/or Dartmouth make a run in the conference. Brown has always been on the cusp but lost a good amount of scoring and their starting goalie from 2011.

They are going to need their defense to be the anchor and that starts with Krieger. With two years under his belt I expect him to take a big step forward in 2012 and I like the defense he has in front of him. I think Jahelka has the ability to step right in and play in front of the big lights and take on the opposing team's top player week in and week out. I saw him play for Garden City high school and saw him in a few of the Empire game's the past two summers.

But can Harvard hang with Cornell? Can any Ivy League team hang with Cornell? Only time will tell.

We will continue with number 18, the Colgate Raiders.

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