CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard raced out to a 5-1 lead at halftime on Saturday and held off a late Yale charge to top the rival No. 8 Bulldogs 8-7 on Senior Day.
Goaltender Jake Gambitsky put on a stellar performance between the pipes, turning away 13 of the 20 shots he faced. Morgan Cheek was the lone Crimson student-athlete with multiple goals Saturday, netting two. Yale's Jeff Cimbalista led all scorers with three goals.
Joe Kearney scored the only goal of the first quarter with 4:44 on the clock when he stepped into a shot and rifled the ball right past the left arm of Yale goaltender Eric Natale.
The quiet first period gave way to a more action-packed second. The initial three minutes of the second quarter saw five goals scored, four by the Crimson (7-2, 2-4 Ivy). Sean Mahon gave Harvard a 2-0 lead just eight seconds after the opening draw. Battling against a Yale (9-4, 3-3 Ivy) defender to the left of the cage, Mahon got a clean shot away that evaded Natale.
Harvard's goal-scoring parade continued less than a minute later when Joe Lang ripped a screamer from straight-on that found the mesh just under the crossbar. Yale got on the board 51 seconds later with Cimbalista scoring his first of the game and the only goal of the half for the Bulldogs.
It took only five seconds for the Crimson to respond. After winning the draw, Keegan Michel found J.T. Palladino near the right post for an easy score. Cheek capped off the second quarter scoring frenzy with his first strike of the game with 12:14 still to play in the period, but the 5-1 lead Harvard built would stay intact until the intermission.
Yale started to claw back into the game in the third frame as Conrad Oberbeck and Cimbalista scored to cut the deficit to 5-3 at the 9:22 mark. Tim Edmonds tacked another goal onto the Harvard tally with 3:29 left to play in the third, running through the middle of the attacking zone and shooting a low strike that found the back of the cage. Brian Pratt scored with 1:50 to go for Yale, sending the game to the final 15 minutes with Harvard ahead 6-4.
Cheek extended the Harvard lead to three with his second goal of the game 53 seconds into the fourth quarter. Racing from behind the net, Cheek beat his defender with a quick shot that sailed by Natale.
The Bulldogs went into comeback mode at that point with James Tjarksen and Cimbalista scoring in a 1:40 span to make it a one goal game with 9:37 left to play.
Will Walker recorded what would go on to be the game winner with 8:30 on the clock. Harvard used two swift passes to circle the ball around the attacking zone, setting up Walker for the close-range score. Yale's Mark Glicini scored with 13 seconds remaining to make it 8-7, but Harvard held off Yale's last effort to secure the win.