Princeton vs. Canisius
February 21, 2009
The Game Story:
Bill Tierney's blueprint for an improved 2009 for his Princeton men's lacrosse team revolves around increased production from two sophomores and a senior on attack and a deep corps of freshmen to energize his defense.

Opening Day certainly followed the script, though the curtain was a little late in rising.

Princeton erupted in the second half to sprint past Canisius 14-6 in front of 1,403 at the Class of 1952 Stadium. The TIgers scored eight times in the third quarter after trailing 3-2 at intermission.

Princeton will now play Johns Hopkins next Saturday in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Canisius, who fell to Colgate a week ago, slipped to 0-2.

It was the second straight year that Princeton used a big second half to defeat Canisius on a cold February Saturday. The 2008 season started with a 13-6 win over Canisius that saw Princeton score the final seven goals over the last 21 minutes of the game.

That 2008 season would start off 7-4 and include a 4-0 start and win over Cornell in the Ivy League, but losses to Dartmouth and Brown to end the year cost the Tigers the league title and an NCAA tournament spot. Since then, Princeton has gone to Europe for three games and added the No. 1 freshman class in the country, according to Inside Lacrosse.

"It took a little while to get going," said Princeton's Jack McBride, who led Princeton with four goals and an assist. "It's the first game. We took a lot of shots in the first half, but their goalie was playing very well. We were a much different team in the second half."

Princeton fired shots all day at the Griffs' net. The two goals in the first half came on an astonishing 27 shots; the second half saw Princeton score 12 times on 33 more shots. The 60 total shots were nearly double Princeton's average of 32 per game a year ago and marked the first time Princeton reached the 60 mark since going for 62 against Rutgers in 1997.

The attack unit of sophomore cousins Jack and Chris McBride and senior Tommy Davis combined for nine goals, all of which came in the second half.

"I thought Tommy could take his man in the first half, but we kept getting in his way," Tierney said. "The message to the offense at halftime was to keep moving. Well, that, and to actually shoot the ball in the net and not over the net."

While the offense needed 30 minutes to get going, the defense, and particularly three freshmen, were hot right off the bat. Princeton started Tyler Fiorito in goal, Chad Wiedmaier on defense and John Cunningham at longstick midfield in place of the slightly injured Charlie Kolkin, and all three responded by playing well.

"It was a long wait to finally play a game," said Cunningham, who had four caused turnovers and three ground balls. "Our class has had much said about it, and it was good to finally see how we were going to do."

Fiorito made four first half saves before giving way to Nikhil Ashra for the second half in sticking to Tierney's plan for his two goalies. The game marked the first time since 2005 that Alex Hewit did not start in goal for Princeton and the first time since the 2004 NCAA Final Four game against Navy that Dan Cocoziello did not start on defense, as the two All-Americas graduated.

Rob Engelke scored twice for Princeton.

Adam Jones had three goals and an assist for the Griffs.

"Adam Jones can play for any team in the country," said Tierney. "We're certainly not good enough to go into a game against a team like Canisius and think we're automatically going to win. This was a tough one, but now that it's over, we can look ahead to next week. It's a great rivalry, but they've had the better of it the last few years. Certainly last year was a little embarrassing for us."

Hopkins defeated Princeton 14-9 in the Face Off Classic a year ago after sprinting away to leads of 1-0 in the first 10 seconds, 5-0 at the end of the first quarter, 8-0 before Princeton scored and 10-1 at the half.