Duke came up to Old Nassau tonight, a clear and bitterly cold Friday, with a game plan of out-snoozing Rip Van Winkle. And it nearly worked. The non-league match-up was a veritable clinic in soap opera inverted iso's from behind and endless passing around the horn that seemed like it was going to rival this year's UNC-Navy marathon. But Princeton clawed their way back to .500 in the beginning of the third overtime stanza on one of the few unscripted moments on the night: BJ Prager muffed a cross-crease feed on the right pipe and, between his shoulders, right leg, and right foot, managed to nudge the loose ball past a stunned AJ Kincel (who had a great night).
Both teams were feeling out the slides to start the 1st and the dodging, although not tepid, tended to result in splits to the outside. After several unsuccessful sets for both squads, and not much action in between the restraining lines, the Tigers started off the scoring about 9:00 minutes into the quarter when Josh White collected himself at back left against a shorti and pulled a tight, quick left-to-right split when he looked like he was going to arc above Kincel's left pipe. Duke's interior didn't react in time, and White was able to stick it from five yards out while remaining on his feet. But then Duke started really whipping the ball around the horn on their next couple of series, almost like they were trying to see how fast they could do it, and it produced some results for them. Matt Monfett was camped out back left, and upon his turn with the hot potato found Kevin Cassese cutting left to right through the middle. Cassese gathered in stride and ripped a nasty low-to-high burner that caught the top left corner on Julian Gould. Duke went up 2-1 shortly afterward on another case of reversing the grain on some speed rotation when Keaney, from the same spot as Monfett before him, threaded it to Monfett on the far pipe for a quick redirect that had Gould moving across the mouth of the goal.
Princeton tied it up at 2-2 quickly though (there wouldn't be excitement like this for the rest of the game). Owen Daly was floating at X without the ball and got Duke's Dan Hauber tied up in front of the goal. Matt Trevenen recognized it immediately from his post off to Kincel's right and bumped it Daly for an effortless dink and dunk as he wrapped around the right pipe and Hauber struggled to recover. After the face, Princeton aggressively challenged Duke's longpoles, but some sharp wrap checks while running at full speed from both Taylor Wray on the wing and Hauber at the top of the box stymied a flurry of dodging attempts from the Tigers. The strong defensive showing from the Blue Devils, especially from their middies that kept getting iso'd on, led to maybe the only real fast break of the game; long stick middie Jon Enberg grabbed a nice outlet from Kincel, after an even better save from Kincel, and bolted upfield with numbers. Enberg dumped to a short stick, got a dump back, and then hit Monfett on the bottom right pipe of a really slow developing 5-4 break. Monfett fed across Gould's nose to Mack Hardaker, who buried it for a 3-2 Duke lead. The quarter would end that way.
Duke started the second with a series of iso's from behind, all against short sticks, that looked as if they had chosen to try and sit on a one goal lead -- if there was any doubt that a certain move might not work, or that the Princeton defenseman wasn't going to fall down, then Duke would regroup, circle the wagons on the endline, and start all over again. They did that for 2 or 3 minutes until they decided to try the same strategy, but from the top of the box. That had no success either (both interior defenses were pretty tight) and when Princeton got to take a swig of the same medicine, Duke was more than happy to rebuff them too, putting up more solid short stick defense, most notably on a seemingly endless cat and mouse game by Trevenen from behind right. The only one from the Tigers that seemed willing to take a risk was Ryan Boyle, and he would do it most often from one of the back corners.
Then a series that gave the fans some momentary life. Cassese whipped up a feed to Kevin Brennan from behind and Brennan pinged one off the far pipe. Princeton controlled after the rebound, and Mark Pelligrino knotted it at 3-3 when he grabbed a Brad Dumont feed while moving right to left and nailed it from 5 yards out. An insane kick save from Gould later, and Dumont gives the Tigers a 4-3 lead, a lead they would hold onto, with a bullet of a bouncer to the top corner after a mishandled feed (and while he darting to his right). There was 1:28 left in the half. Duke was granted the last opportunity of the period, but in sign of things to come, held on to the ball for far too long (they would start a dodge with about 10 seconds left) and turned it over without even getting it on cage.
Princeton controlled the face, but on Duke's next turn with rock got caught with some confusion in the box and was flagged with an offsides. The Tigers held for the full :30 seconds without incident -- Duke was content to pass it around the horn and wait for a breakdown. That breakdown never came while Princeton was full strength, but once Duke settled back into their regular offense, Kevin Brennan pulled a nifty split from top center and dumped to Cassese at the righty shooter's spot once the slide from the top wing came. Cassese burned one high without much pressure to tie it at four. Princeton then reverted to their bread and butter short stick iso's from behind and hit paydirt on Josh White's effort off to Kincel's right -- White bulled, rolled, and feigned a drive across the top to get just enough wiggle room in order to sneak it by Kincel's stick side before Kincel could seal it off.
No scoring would occur for the rest of the third, but a handful of stalwart defensive performances marked the remaining time. Dan Hauber was doing a solid, athletic job on Princeton's acrobatic Hartofilis (who got blanked on the night), and Michael Ferrari was stopping Boyle from creating any real space with which to feed. In fact, Boyle would often gain a half step on Ferrari, but Ferrari's persistent back-checking and elbow-lifting often held Boyle up for some incredibly punishing slides from the crease. Boyle would be held to no points on the night also (although the scorers table called the last play of the game an assist from Boyle).
Princeton started the fourth with the ball and about :30 of an EMO, the result of a pretty weak unnecessary roughness call against Duke's Paul Jepsen (which was precipitated by Ferrari slowing Boyle in a dash for the front of the goal).
more coming in the morning...
Princeton vs. Duke