Princeton Holds Off Yale 7-6

Princeton Holds Off Yale 7-6

Princeton Holds Off Yale 7-6

Princeton Holds Off Yale 7-6


Princeton Holds Off Yale, Advances To Ivy Final

If there's any team that knows that no fourth-quarter lead is safe, no matter how comfortable it seems, it's the Princeton men's lacrosse team.

The Tigers have seen it time and again this season, and the first-ever Ivy League tournament game was different only for one reason: Princeton was the team that was hanging on for dear life at the end.

Princeton used an amazing defensive effort for the first 51 minutes and then withstood a furious Yale comeback over the final nine to hold on for a 7-6 win at Cornell's Schoellkopf Field. The win advanced Princeton to Sunday's final (noon, ESPNU, WPRB FM 103.3) against Cornell who defeated Brown 14-8 in the second semifinal. The tournament winner will claim the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Princeton, Cornell, Yale and Brown will be considered league quad-champions, regardless of who wins the tournament.

Princeton and Yale are both 10-4 on the season. Princeton defeated Yale during the regular-season, also by a 7-6 score.

"We had a great opportunity to host this tournament," said Princeton goalie Tyler Fiorito, who made 11 saves. "We lost two games the last two weeks that took that opportunity away. It was good to get a win."

Princeton led 7-2 with nine minutes to play after completely wiping out the Yale offense to that point. And then, the Bulldogs caught fire, scoring four straight goals to make it 7-6 with 1:59 left. Yale then won the face-off and had two possessions after that, but Princeton did not allow another shot.

The Tigers are no strangers to such games this season, with huge comebacks against Penn and Rutgers to win games and North Carolina that came up a goal short. And that doesn't include the one a week ago, when Princeton trailed Cornell 9-3 in the fourth quarter only to lose 10-9.

The first Princeton-Yale meeting saw neither team ever lead by more than one and Jeff Froccaro score the game-winner with 37 seconds left. This one may also have finished 7-6, but it got to the end much differently.

Princeton did not score for the first 27:47, but it was only a 1-0 Yale lead when the Tigers finally broke through, thanks to incredible defensive efforts and goalie play by both teams. In fact, the 1-0 score was achieved without a stall warning called against either team.

Scott MacKenzie scored for Princeton with 2:13 left in the half to finally break through, and that was followed just 24 seconds later with a goal by Mike Grossman. It was 3-1 Princeton when Jack McBride completed the three goals in 55 seconds run, but Greg Mahony scored his first with 24 seconds left in the half to make it 3-2 Tigers at the break.

By the time Yale would score again, it was 7-2, as Rob Engelke and Alex Capretta scored the only goals of the third quarter and McBride scored twice to start the fourth.

It seemed that Princeton was cruising, as Yale offensive possessions were ending with with turnovers, Fiorito saves and missed opportunities. And then, the Bulldogs hit the on switch, scoring twice to force a Princeton timeout and then twice more after that.

"We called timeout to settle everyone down," Princeton coach Chris Bates said. "We were tired. I thought we played a great defensive game to that point, and we were able to hold on."

Mahony and Matt Fuchs would score twice each during the run, and Max Rodman won six of seven fourth quarter face-offs. Suddenly Princeton was on its heels, but the Bulldogs would have those two late turnovers.

Fiorito, the first-team All-Ivy goalie, made several tough stops among his 11 saves.

"I've said this a lot," said McBride, whose three goals gave him 30 for the year and 84 for his career, "but Tyler is the backbone of our team. He's unbelievable."

Chad Wiedmaier shut out Yale's Matt Gibson, who came into the game with 26 goals a team-best 44 points. Long Ellis had two caused turnovers and four ground balls.

Princeton outshot Yale 29-25, and there were only 33 combined ground balls in the game (Yale had 17 to Princeton's 16). Johnathan Falcone made seven saves for Yale.

Photos by Pat Orr.

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