Princeton, NJ – It’s tournament time and as everyone knows the Princeton Tigers come ready to play in May. Princeton used Ryan Boyle’s first career four goal game to handle Rutgers 12-4 in first round NCAA action. Freshmen Scott Sowanick and Peter Trombino both contributed two goals for the Tigers, while classmate Whitney Hayes chipped in with a goal and two assists. For Rutgers, junior Leif Bloomquist was involved on all four Knights’ goals as he had two goals and two assists. Sophomore John Manners tried to fill in the hole of senior captain and third leading scorer, Tim White, who was lost for the season to a knee injury during practice this week, by contributing two goals. Rutgers’ leading scorer, Delby Powless, was held pointless by defenseman Tim Sullivan and the rest of the Tigers’ defense.
Freshman Scott Sowanick would waste little time before taking a Whitney Hayes feed and getting the Tigers on the board 45 seconds into the game. Ryan Boyle would notch his first goal of the game unassisted with 9:31 left in the 1st quarter. Goalie Greg Havalchak kept Rutgers in the game early as he contributed two early saves, but unfortunately they were unsuccessful in the clearing attempt. Nonetheless, Rutgers was successful in holding off Princeton for the most of the 1st quarter, as each team traded long possession after long possession. Finally Leif Bloomquist took a Matt Apel feed and put Rutgers on the board. The tally came after Rutgers had hit a post on a shot and came up with the groundball back at midfield, until Apel made the feed from the X-position.
In what would be an important factor in the game, Ryan Boyle added his second goal of the game with only 6.2 seconds remaining in the 1st period. “We always say goals in the last minute of quarters are huge," Tierney said. The last minute goals would factor in later in the game as well.
The Boyle goal started the first Princeton three-goal-run of the day (there were three). To start the 2nd quarter, senior John Robinson notched his first goal of the season. Four and a half minutes later, Princeton set up in an invert which they called “turtle”. With Dan Thompson starting the invert offense. Eventually the ball found its place in Boyle’s stick, who drove hard around the crease for the unassisted goal.
Still fighting to keep it a close game, sophomore John Manners added his third goal of the season for Rutgers of a Bloomquist feed with 7:54 to play in the half. To start the 2nd three-goal-run, Boyle fed Jason Donegar to give Princeton the four goal lead. Rutgers was given a man advantage on an unnecessary roughness call (the only minute penalty called on either team all day). However, Rutgers looked very sloppy on the crucial man-up, which would have helped give momentum to make a second half run, but instead, allowed Princeton the opportunity to take the game away for good. The Tigers weren’t happy with just one last minute goal this time, instead Whitney Hayes took the ball off a timeout and scored with just 22 seconds remaining. Peter Trombino followed 12 seconds later as Princeton won the faceoff, with Doneger immediately driving hard, dishing to Boyle who found the open Trombino. To send Princeton into the locker room with a very commanding 8-2 lead. Afterwards Coach Jim Stagnitta had this to say, “there were a couple of times in the game where, particularly in the first half, we started to turn the momentum…when you give up a goal with that little time left, that certainly deflates you.”
Leif Bloomquist would again show that there was life in the Rutgers team, by finishing a long possession off with a nice lefty bounce shot. Unfortunately, the Tigers’ final three-goal-run of the day was to come. Drew Casino added his 21st goal of the season unassisted first. The Tigers’ 10th goal came off a Ryan Boyle drive from X, that ended in a “save-the-dive” fashion – only Boyle landed and dove outside of the crease. Peter Trombino added a similar goal less than a minute later. This final fatal three-goal-run lasted 2:22.
Princeton goalie Dave Law contributed 8 saves for the Tigers and was matched by Greg Havalchak of Rutgers. Only as was noted by both Bill Tierney and Ryan Boyle in the press conference, Havalchak was amazing early. He contributed five 1st quarter goals that stifled the early Princeton attack. As Tierney mentioned later, “Greg I believe is the best goalie in the country. You have to make sure you know what you’re doing with your shots. He and Delby were what we concentrated on all week.”
Rutgers seemed to be stymied by their inability to control the ball. It seemed that in the late period of the 1st quarter and the crucial 2nd quarter, Rutgers was unable to take care of the ball. Neither team held an advantage in shots, however Princeton was able to hold an 8 goal advantage in shots on goal, which proved to be the difference. “For every good shot they put on cage, we missed one,” commented Rutgers coach Jim Stagnitta.
One of the keys as was unanimously mentioned at the post-game press conference was the improvement of the Princeton offense and the maturation of the younger Tigers. One of the other important keys was the loss of Rutgers’ midfielder Tim White. Coach Tierney pointed out “when that happens, not only do you lose that player, but you lose the chemistry.” In watching the Rutgers team, it seemed as if their chemistry was just a little off today.
Another important aspect was the effectiveness of the Princeton defense in shutting down the potent Rutgers attack. The loss of White made that easier. The playing of Tim Sullivan on Delby Powless was integral. Sullivan showed after the game exactly the team concept that is so ingrained in the Princeton Lacrosse spirit, “We had great efforts as a team on the field the guys who were covering the ball (I played mostly off covering Delby) did a great job making it difficult getting the ball to him, but also the guys throughout the week who helped us prepare for them, like Tripp Shriner and Dan Brown, gave us great efforts at practice to get us ready for what these guys would be like.”
Princeton is a team to be reckoned with now, as their patient offense is coming in to stride. The senior leaders seem to be stepping in at the right time. With Drew Casino controlling the face-off X, Ricky Schultz leading the storied Princeton defense which seems to be coming into its own and obviously Ryan Boyle running the offense. Only now the talented freshman class is forming an identity. “From day one, the talent was obvious, it was just a matter of them adapting to the college game and adapting to how Coach Metz runs our offense.” Boyle added, “you look at a guy like Whitney, he doesn’t shoot from outside 8 yards, neither do I. But as long as you make good decisions you’re going to succeed.”What better time than tournament time to make your identity. This isn’t anything new to Princeton.
Princeton now gets ready to face Maryland in the quarterfinals. Going in as the underdog may be tough, but as always Coach Tierney is looking at the bright side:“one good thing is we’re not going to have wear white, so I don’t have to wear that god-forsaken black coaching shirt.”
|Ryan Boyle||(4, 2)|
|Whitney Hayes||(1, 2)|
|Scott Sowanick||(2, 0)|
|Peter Trombino||(2, 0)|
|Drew Casino||(1, 0)|
|John Robinson||(1, 0)|
|Jason Doneger||(1, 0)|
|Dave Law||8 (0.667)|