(Photo Courtesy of Harvard Athletics)
Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.
Head Coach: Gerry Byrne (Third Season, 2020-Current)
Harvard 2022 Record: 8-5 (3-3 Ivy League)
Key Departures: Austin Madronic (A), Kyle Mullin (G)
Key Returners: Sam King (A), Miles Botkiss (A/M), Hayden Cheek (A), Owen Gaffney (M), Chase Yager (SSDM), Greg Campisi (LSM), Collin Bergstrom (D), Tommy Martinson (D)
Transfer Additions: N/A
In the eyes of many, Harvard is ahead of schedule under Gerry Byrne. The Crimson went 2-2 during that shortened 2020 season to get the Byrne era underway. After a season off, Harvard came back and in its first full season under Byrne put together its best season in quite a while.
The Crimson went 8-5 overall last spring and 3-3 in Ivy League play. And despite missing the league tournament, made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. And the Crimson achieved that success with three freshman among its top five scorers, plus a close defense that started nearly all freshmen.
In the second full season of the Gerry Byrne era in Cambridge, the Crimson return a ton of talent and look to have a ton of potential. After a season the likes of which the Crimson had last spring, a strong encore should be expected. With that, Harvard will be one of the more intriguing teams to watch in college lacrosse in 2023
Who Replaces Kyle Mullin?
The biggest personnel question mark for Harvard heading into the 2023 season lies in cage with the graduation of Kyle Mullin. A three-year starter, Mullin capped his career in Cambridge with a 2022 season that saw him make 153 saves with a 50% save percentage and earn an All-Ivy Honorable Mention selection.
Harvard will find its answer in cage from a four-man goalie room that features three returners from last season.
Junior Christian Barnard, senior Jack Schledorf, and sophomore George Alvarez all return while freshman Adam Blind is the lone newcomer at the position. Barnard was the primary backup last season, playing 42 minutes in two games. He made four saves. Alvarez got 6:25 of action in two games whole Schlendorf played four minutes in one game.
Will There Be Improvement at The Faceoff Dot?
Another major personnel question mark for this Crimson squad is at the faceoff dot. Last spring, Harvard were one of the worst teams at the dot in college lacrosse as it went 39.7% and ranked 67th in team faceoff win percentage. Steven Cuccurullo went 109-for-263 (41%) as the primary option while Kyle Massimillan went 24-for-65 (36.9%) as the primary backup. Both Cuccurullo and Massimillan were seniors last year and are now gone.
Heading into 2023, Harvard returns just one player who took any reps at the faceoff dot last season. That lone returner is sophomore Andrew DeGennaro, who went 12-for-37 (32.4%) in the limited action he saw as a freshman. The Crimson bring in freshman Matthew Barraco at the position. He has had a tremendous fall by all accounts.
Who Gets That Third Attack Spot?
In 2022, Harvard had the nation’s 27th best scoring offense as it averaged 13.15 goals per game. That end of the field was headlined, in part, by a strong attack unit of freshman Sam King (25G/21A), senior Austin Madronic (30G/14A), and junior Hayden Cheek (20G/5A). The trio combined for 115 points and contributed 45% of the Crimson’s overall offensive production.
King returns as a sophomore in 2023 and will continue to run the show at the X attack spot. Cheek is also back for his senior season and will continue in his role as the primary off-ball playmaker for this unit. The question with the Harvard attack unit is who will be that third guy to replace Madronic.
Freshman Teddy Malone and sophomore Joey Graham have both seen action at that third spot alongside King and Cheek during fall scrimmages. Graham played in three games last season with no stats reported. Reserve attackmen Joe Dowling, Lucas Hilsenrath, who had dealt with injury this fall, and Graham Blake all return as well.
Potential Breakout Player
Andrew O’Berry, Midfield, Sophomore
There are an innumerable amount of players that should take on bigger roles for this Harvard team this spring, and especially so at what should be a very deep and talented spot. O’Berry started five of the Crimson’s 13 games last spring and netted six goals while dishing out one assist. That included a career-high, two-goal outing against rival Yale in the regular season finale. Expect O’Berry to be one of the biggest jumpers for this Harvard team in 2023.
With its 2022 recruiting efforts, Harvard brings in a 10-man freshman class. The class is headlined by Under Armour All-American midfielder Logan Ip (Corona Del Mar, Calif.). The big downhill dodger is expected to be an immediate impact in that Crimson midfield rotation. Ip is one of four players, along with LSM Sean Jordan (St. Andrew’s, Fla.), defensman Charlie Mueller (Bullis, Md.), and goalie Adam Blind (Culver, Ind.) ranked in the Inside Lacrosse Top 50.