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NCAA hopes on the line for Princeton men’s lacrosse at Ivy Tournament

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By David Marcus ’92
 
The Princeton men’s lacrosse team has a challenging though unclear mission this weekend. If the Tigers are to go to the NCAA Tournament, they’ll at a minimum need to beat Cornell at 8 p.m. Friday in Ithaca, N.Y., in the semifinals of the Ivy League Tournament. Depending on what happens in the other six conference tournaments this weekend, Princeton may well need to win its own, which would entail a win over Cornell and a victory over either Yale or Penn in the Ivy final, which is slated for Sunday at 11 a.m. The Ivy Tournament winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAAs.

“We’re going into this weekend thinking we have to win two games,” said Chris Bates, Princeton’s head coach.

The Tigers went 8-5 this year, including wins over Johns Hopkins and Yale, but they dropped one-goal games to North Carolina, Penn, Syracuse, and Dartmouth before suffering a 17-11 loss to Cornell at MetLife Stadium April 27. Princeton has struggled defensively all year, allowing an average of 9.7 goals a game, and Bates replaced goalie Matt O’Connor ’16, who started the first 11 games of the year, with Eric Sanschagrin ’15 against Harvard on April 19. Sanschagrin played well against the Crimson, making 8 saves in a 14-6 win, and respectably against Cornell with 12 saves.

Despite performing in front of 19,875 people in an NFL Stadium, “Eric was very poised,” against Cornell, Bates said. “The shots he gave up were in tight. We thought he played fine.”

Princeton’s normally potent offense sputtered in the first half against Cornell before scoring eight goals in the second half. They’ll need that kind of production for a full 60 minutes to beat the Big Red, which pelted Princeton with shots from close range. Cornell’s Rob Pannell may be the best attackman in the college game, and he scored five goals and four assists on Saturday in a dominating performance. Cornell attackman Steve Mock and midfielder Connor Buczek each added four goals as the team upped its record to 12-2 and 6-0 in the Ivy League.

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