PRINCETON, N.J. — Princeton (6-4, 3-1 Ivy) certainly didn’t want Cornell (9-2, 4-1) to extend its welcome too long on Saturday. After Princeton won the de facto Ivy League men’s lacrosse championship game, 12-7, the Tigers took away Cornell’s hold on the conference race and its locker room at the same time. Since the field was to be used for a women’s lacrosse game immediately after the Cornell-Princeton match, the Red couldn’t return to its locker room to change, shower, or collect itself. Instead, it vacated the premises immediately and loaded the bus for the long ride home to Ithaca.
The game was arguably the most important of the season for both teams. For Cornell, it would have guaranteed the team a share of the Ivy League title and most likely an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. For Princeton, it was Senior Day and the last resort for a way into the national tournament.
Leading 4-3 going into the second half, Princeton’s season was at stake, and the Tigers fought as if that were the case. Their slow start had turned around with three straight wins. Princeton reeled off six straight goals after the half, five in the third quarter to cement its dominance over Cornell for the seventh year in a row.
The game started with the teams alternating goals. Junior J.P. Schalk got the Red on the board first at 1:52. Dan Clark tied the score eight minutes later. Sophomore Andrew Collins and Brad Dumont exchanged goals as the game was deadlocked at the end of one quarter.
Princeton scored the next two, as Cornell had problems on the offensive end. The Red could not get the ball to freshman and premier scoring threat Sean Greenhalgh, who couldn’t free himself of 6-3, 224 lb. defenseman Scott Farrell. Nevertheless, Greenhalgh intercepted an errant pass from Princeton longstickman Damien Davis for Cornell’s third goal with 3:07 left in the half.
“They just face-guarded him all day, and they didn’t slide off him. But we didn’t put a lot of pressure on them. If our guys outside would have started to beat their men one-on-one, it would have created a different situation,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni.
The physical and defensive dominated play slipped into chippiness as the second 30 minutes started. Cornell had a two-man advantage, but could not capitalize on special teams, as was the case all day long. Princeton also benefited from two simultaneous penalties called on Cornell, but did not score. The Tigers found their scoring prowess soon after.
“There were four man-ups that we didn’t capitalize on. Any time you are against Princeton six-on-six, you really have to work for your looks. So any time you get an extra man, you have to do a good job of at least getting shots off,” Tambroni said.
Although, it was able to keep the Princeton attackers off the scoresheet, Cornell’s defensive breakdowns gave the Tiger midfielders wide-open looks into the cage. Dan Clark started the streak at 6:10, followed by Greg Golaszewski 13 seconds later. Sean Hartofilis added a pair in an eight second span, both on assists from Ryan Boyle. Boyle had a tally of his own with under five minutes remaining in the quarter.
“We weren’t getting a whole lot of possessions for a great length, and it didn’t give us an opportunity to get our rhythm going,” Tambroni noted. “Our defense broke down a couple times, but we never controlled the ball enough to stop what was going on in our offensive end.”
During that span, Cornell suffered from its ineffectiveness on the faceoff. It won seven of 22 face-offs, with senior Addison Sollog, who has been playing through back problems, and was beaten on the wing play. The Tigers also outhustled the Red for groundballs taking 31 of 50.
The Red staged a comeback in the fourth with three consecutive goals from Collins, senior Galen Beers, and freshman Justin Redd. But with the score 10-6 in favor of Princeton, it was just too little, too late for the Red.
Princeton ensured itself of the win with two more goals in the final three minutes, and Redd closed the deficit with an unassisted goal in the waning seconds.
Senior goalie Justin Cynar had nine saves, while his counterpart, Julian Gould, had 11. Princeton outshot the Red 32-31, but many of Cornell’s shots were ill-advised, sailing wide of the net.
Cornell now has the challenge of turning its focus away from Saturday’s loss and towards next Saturday’s game against Brown. Last year, it was unable to do that, losing both games after the Princeton game. However, Tambroni assured that his team would not suffer a late-season collapse with an at-large bid at stake and an Ivy League title still in the cards.
“This is a game that’s going to make our team stronger,” he said. “This is a setback, and its a painful one because I know our guys really wanted to come down here and beat Princeton lacrosse in their home venue. But we’re a mature group and a resilient one, and we’ll be back.”
Archived article by Amanda Angel