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.
Friday, May 4
Yale vs. Cornell, 5 p.m.
Brown at Princeton,
Sunday, May 6
TV: Semifinals – ESPN3, Championship – ESPNU
By David Marcus ’92
The men’s lacrosse team won the Ivy League championship on Saturday with a 14-9 win over Cornell, but Princeton may have to beat the Big Red again in this weekend’s Ivy League tournament to go to the NCAA playoffs. The victory gave Princeton its first undefeated Ivy campaign since 2001, when the Tigers went on to win the national title, and it broke a streak of nine straight years in which Cornell had either won or shared the crown. It also means Princeton will host the Ivy tournament this weekend.
The Ivy League likely will get only one NCAA bid this year, and it will go to the winner of this weekend’s tournament. “We feel that we need to win Friday and Sunday to ensure our spot” in the NCAAs, said Princeton head coach Chris Bates.
Princeton beat Brown 13-2 on March 31 in Providence, a game in which Princeton goalie Tyler Fiorito ’12 made 16 saves while his Brown counterpart Will Round recorded only four. Bates says that the Bears are a “different and better team” than they were a month ago.
Freshmen Erin McMunn, left, and Annie Woehling played key roles in Princeton’s 12-9 win over Dartmouth. (Photos: Courtesy Athletic Communications)
The women’s lacrosse team has had its share of highs and lows in recent seasons. But the Tigers certainly do not back down from pressure – in several must-win situations over the last three years, Princeton has played its best games.
Entering the final game of the 2010 regular season, the Tigers had lost three straight games by a combined 16 goals, but they beat Dartmouth – which was ranked in the top 10 nationally – in overtime to qualify for the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. Last season, Princeton toppled Penn in Philadelphia before beating Harvard to win the conference tournament, snatching the automatic bid for NCAAs; the Tigers then extended their season once more with an 11-10 victory over James Madison in the first round.
And on Saturday, when a loss would have knocked Princeton out of postseason contention, the Tigers handed No. 8 Dartmouth its first Ivy League loss of the season with a 12-9 victory at Class of 1952 Stadium.
“We knew we had to win this game … but the one thing we didn’t want to do was to come in thinking that we had to win and focusing on the negative aspects of it,” said midfielder Cassie Pyle ’12, who scored four goals. “We wanted to think of how big an opportunity it was for us. I think that mindset was really what kept us so calm throughout the game.”
Tyler Fiorito ’12 (Photo: Courtesy Athletic Communications)
By David Marcus ’92
Tyler Fiorito ’12 has been one of the best lacrosse goalies in the country since his freshman year, but he got off to a rocky start this season. He was shaky in a 10-8 loss to Johns Hopkins March 2, then missed Princeton’s 13-7 win over Manhattan because he violated an unspecified team rule – the first game in Fiorito’s Princeton career that he hasn’t started – and made only two saves in a 9-8 loss to the University of North Carolina at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore March 10.
Fiorito returned to form in a 14-8 win at Villanova on March 14 and an 11-4 victory over Penn four days later that left Princeton with a 4-2 record and a No. 13 ranking. He made 11 saves against the Wildcats and seven more against the Quakers. He also played well outside the cage by picking up several loose balls against Penn and making good decisions when clearing the ball. That’s encouraging news for Princeton, whose offense is good enough to compete with any team in the country if Fiorito and his defense are on their game.
The centerpiece of that offense is Tom Schreiber ’14, who generates more points per possession than any player in college lacrosse, according to one Web commentator.
And that analysis came just after the UNC game, when Schreiber didn’t score on any of his seven shots, though he did notch three assists. Attackman Jeff Froccaro ’13 also shot 0-for-7 against UNC, whose goalie, Steven Rastivo, turned in his best effort of the year with 16 saves.
Tom Schreiber ’14 (Photo: Courtesy Athletic Communications)
By David Marcus ’92
The Princeton men’s lacrosse team fell to 2-1 with a 10-8 loss on March 2 to Johns Hopkins, currently the second-ranked team in the country, but the Tigers’ first three games suggest that they’re primed to overcome the offensive difficulties that plagued them last year in a difficult 4-8 season.
In 2011, the lone bright spot on an offense that averaged only 7.1 goals a game (55th among the 61 schools that play Division I lacrosse), was midfielder Tom Schreiber ’14, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Princeton’s leader in goals and assists. Schreiber is an exceptionally gifted passer, and head coach Chris Bates has made him the centerpiece of this year’s offense. Bates tries to keep him on the field as much as possible by playing him at attack rather than midfield.
Schreiber rewarded that confidence Feb. 25 with four goals and three assists in a 12-6 season-opening win over Hofstra. He added four more goals and an assist in a 13-7 win over Manhattan three days later. But Johns Hopkins defenseman Tucker Durkin, like Schreiber a preseason first-team All-American, held him to a goal and two assists.
By Jakob Engelke
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – In the early minutes of Saturday’s NCAA Tournament quarterfinal matchup against top-seeded Maryland, the Princeton women’s lacrosse team seemed primed to pull off an improbable upset.
Cassie Pyle ’12 (Office of Athletic Communications)
The Tigers controlled possession early and with two quick goals from midfielder Cassie Pyle ’12 and one from attacker Jaci Gassaway ’13, Princeton found itself owning a 3-1 lead with 14:40 remaining in the first half.
But it was only a matter of time before Maryland’s offense, which averaged 15 goals per game heading into the contest, came to life.
After the No. 12 Tigers’ initial outburst, the No. 1 Terrapins went on to score seven unanswered goals and took a four-score lead into halftime en route to a dominant 15-6 victory at Maryland’s Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.
“We started out the game strong and feeling good,” Princeton head coach Chris Sailer said. “We were really giving them some difficulties with our one-on-ones, but Maryland’s a great team and they went on their runs. We never recovered from that.”
After Princeton took its early two-goal lead, Maryland head coach Cathy Reese called a timeout to settle down her players. The move worked to perfection, as the Terrapins outscored Princeton, 14-3, in the remaining 44 minutes of action.