By David Marcus ’92
The men’s lacrosse team ended its season yesterday with a 6-5 loss to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville the first round of the NCAA playoffs. Princeton had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Virginia midfielder Chris LaPierre used his chest to block a shot by Forest Sonnenfeldt ’13 to seal the victory. Players other than goalies rarely use their bodies to block shots going 90 miles per hour, but LaPierre’s play was a fitting end to an intense contest in which both defenses imposed their will on offenses that averaged about 12 goals a game. Virginia, the defending national champion, was seeded fifth in the tournament. Princeton was unseeded.
Despite the loss, Princeton head coach Chris Bates called his goalie Tyler Fiorito ’12 “the best player on the field.” The Ivy League Player of the Year was exceptional. He made 12 saves, several of them from close range, and played well outside the cage by picking up four ground balls. Chad Wiedmaier ’12, a first-team All-Ivy League selection in each of his four years at Princeton, blanketed Virginia’s Steele Stanwick, limiting the best offensive player in the sport to a goal and an assist.
Even that lone goal wasn’t Wiedmaier’s fault, though it may have been the biggest play in the game. Fiorito made a save with about 30 seconds left in the second quarter and heaved the ball to Tom Schreiber ’14 in Princeton’s offensive end. But Virginia forced a turnover, and LaPierre scooped up the ground ball near his team’s bench. He threw a 70-yard strike to Stanwick, who caught the pass about six yards from Princeton’s goal and flicked it past Fiorito to give Virginia a 5-2 lead with five seconds left in the first half.
That goal could have crushed Princeton, which had just scored a minute earlier. Instead, the Tigers dominated the third quarter. Jeff Froccaro ’13 scored on an outside shot eight minutes into the second to cut the deficit to two and then pulled his team within one on a feed from Schreiber with six seconds left in the period. Princeton controlled the ball early in the fourth quarter, but Virginia’s Chris Bocklet put his team up 6-4 on an assist from Stanwick with seven minutes left. Fiorito made a save on Bocklet a few minutes later and then, with less than two minutes to play, picked up a ground ball and initiated a clear.
Bates called timeout, and Schreiber scored his second goal of the game just seconds later to bring the score to 6-5. Bobby Lucas ’13 won the ensuing faceoff, and the Princeton offense generated three good looks for Sonnenfeldt, who in the end was thwarted by LaPierre.
Virginia advances to the NCAA quarterfinals, where the Cavaliers will play Notre Dame on Sunday at PPL Stadium outside of Philadelphia. Princeton, the regular season Ivy League champion, finishes its season 11-5.
David Marcus ’92 is a frequent PAW contributor.