BOSTON, M.A. — For the second straight year, the Harvard Crimson found themselves down in the fourth quarter to the Boston University Terriers. And for the second straight year, the Crimson clawed their way back to force overtime and come out of the game with a win.
The Terriers looked to have broken through in the third quarter with a 4-0 run to take a 9-4 lead. But Chris Wojcik’s squad of “never quit” players flipped the result in their favor for a 12-11 triple overtime win at Nickerson Field.
“I think we were kind of on our heels,” Wojcik said. “We challenged the guys in the huddle that BU is really taking it to us. We challenged them regardless of the outcome that we’re going down, being really aggressive and attacking. I don’t think we did that at all times, especially offensively.”
The first half was balanced for the most part, but sloppy. The Terriers led by only one at the half thanks to a buzzer-beating goal by Chris Gray with two seconds left.
Both teams combined for 24 turnovers (14 for Harvard, 10 for BU) and were 15-of-23 on clearing attempts (7-of-12 for Harvard, 8-of-11 for BU).
Gray’s pre-halftime score gave the Terriers a jolt they needed entering the second half. BU scored the next four goals to open up a 9-4 lead with 3:47 left in the 3rd quarter. FOGO Sean Christman went 5-of-6 from the faceoff X in the quarter and the team looked poised to carry that momentum in the final quarter.
Harvard did get a goal from Nick Loring to end the Terrier run before the end of the third, but completely shifted momentum in the fourth. Part of that reason came from FOGO Steven Cuccurullo winning all nine faceoffs in the quarter as well as all three draws in the subsequent overtime period.
“He found something that was working and was able to keep going and executing it, and that’s as good as he’s faced off.”
The Crimson used that momentum, as well as five BU penalties, to climb back and take a one-goal lead. But the final 1:30 of regulation provided plenty of entertainment.
James Burr blasted a high-to-high shot from Brendan Homire to tie the game up at 10 to stop the Harvard run. But 59 seconds later, Charlie Olmert ran up the middle through the BU defense to give the Crimson back a one-goal lead. Despite losing the faceoff, Homire forced Cuccurullo to turn the ball over and head coach Ryan Polley called timeout with three seconds remaining. Despite the short amount of time, Gray beat the buzzer yet again to force overtime.
CHRIS GRAY AT THE BUZZER! WE'RE GOING TO OT! pic.twitter.com/IGoVNAR6wy— BU Men's Lacrosse (@TerrierMLAX) March 20, 2019
Neither team budged in the first two overtime sessions before Nigel Andrews scored the game-winner with 1:45 left. And he got a small scouting report from junior attackman Kyle Anderson, who scored last year’s overtime winner against BU.
“He said basically just to slip after I set a pick on his man because he thinks I might be open inside. And I did exactly what he said, and I was wide open inside.”
Through the first three quarters, BU held a 42-25 shot advantage on Harvard. But they only scored nine times on goalie Kyle Mullin. The sophomore netminder recorded 18 saves in those first 45 minutes en route to a 19-save performance. Similar to his 22-save performance against Providence, Mullin played on his head.
“He’s been outstanding for us all year,” Wojcik said. “13 saves in that first half, just kept that game really close. Just had the team on his shoulders almost making saves, keeping us in the game for an opportunity to make a comeback.”
Despite being a much different looking goalie than former starter Robert Shaw, Wojcik said Shaw’s work ethic and preparation rubbed off on the open-minded sophomore last year. Shaw’s influence on Mullin has been apparent throughout the season.
On the other side, it’s the second straight year that the Terriers could not finish against the Crimson, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many on the team.
“We just got to be better in that fourth quarter,” said BU head coach Ryan Polley. “We were so good in the Bucknell game and our execution. And in this game, we weren’t great in our execution late in the game even on our clears. We failed a few clears in overtime that gave them extra possessions. We had a couple empty possessions in overtime where we forced some things and didn’t put pressure on them to even get a shot.
“We just kind of stopped playing, we took our foot off the gas pedal at 9-4. And give Harvard credit, they didn’t stop playing and they made big plays.”
Harvard improves to 3-4 and ends a three-game road-trip in Hanover against the Dartmouth Big Green on Saturday. BU falls to 6-3 and resumes Patriot League play at home against the Lafayette Leopards on Saturday.
STATS AND SCORING
A Myles Hamm (3 Gs, 1 A, 2 GBs, 1 CT)
M Kyle Salvatore (2 Gs, 1 A, 4 GBs)
M Charlie Olmert (2 Gs, 1 A, 1 GB)
M Nigel Andrews (1 G, 2 As, 1 GB)
A Jeremy Magno (2 Gs, 3 GBs)
A Kyle Anderson (1 G, 1 A, 5 GBs)
M Nick Loring (1 G, 1 A)
D Beau Botkiss (3 CTs, 2 GBs, 1-of-1 FOs)
LSM Chris Rota (1 CT, 1 GB)
SSDM Zach Hobbes (1 CT)
FOGO Steven Cuccurullo (15-of-19 FOs, 10 GBs)
FOGO Kyle Massimilian (3-of-9 FOs, 1 GB)
G Kyle Mullin (19 saves, 2 GBs)
A Chris Gray (4 Gs, 2 As, 4 GBs)
A James Burr (2 Gs, 1 A, 2 GBs, 2 CTs)
M Brendan Homire (1 G, 2 As, 1 GB, 1 CT)
M Jett Dziama (2 Gs, 1 GB)
A Timmy Ley (1 G, 1 A)
M Jake Cates (1 G, 1 A)
M Jack Collins (1 A)
M Michael Laviano (1 A)
D Will Carson (3 CTs, 2 GBs)
LSM Chase Levesque (2 CTs, 6 GBs)
SSDM Thomas Schmidt (2 CTs, 3 GBs)
SSDM Michael Doxie (2 CTs)
LSM Reece Eddy (1 CT, 6 GBs)
D Nicholas Ellerton (1 CT, 1 GB)
D Quintin Germain (1 CT)
FOGO Kevin Snyder (1 CT, 0-of-5 FOs)
FOGO Sean Christman (10-of-24 FOs, 7 GBs)
G Joe McSorley (12 saves, 1 GB)