FROM PRINCETON UNIVERSITY:
The first name Bill Tierney mentioned in the locker room was Connor McKemey, a 14-year-old South Carolina lacrosse player who was burned over 85 percent of his body in a house fire at Christmas. This happened while his father was serving as a Marine in Iraq.
"We got our strength from Connor," Tienrey repeated in the interview room.
Compared to what he's going through, what was a little thing like taking on the defending NCAA champion and second-ranked Syracuse Orange at Giants Stadium in the first Big City Classic?
Fifth-ranked Princeton, wearing "Bear Down" helmet stickers in honor of Connor's nickname, never trailed on its way to a solid 12-8 win over the Orange. Freshman goalie Tyler Fiorito made 15 saves, while Mark Kovler and Jack McBride scored three times each.
The game was the middle one of the Big City Classic, which began when top-ranked Virginia held off No. 10 North Carolina 11-10 and concluded with the Hofstra-Delaware game.
"I got a letter from an alum who told me Connor's story," Tierney said. "I wrote a letter to him, and I encouraged the players to do so as well. Every one of them did. It's sort of grown from that."
The win improved Princeton to 8-1 overall with five Ivy League games remaining, beginning Tuesday night at Penn. Syracuse fell to 7-2.
Princeton and Syracuse have combined to win 15 of the last 21 NCAA titles, including the one the Orange won last May.
The Tigers were hardly perfect on offense, with 18 turnovers and five failed clears, but Princeton scored big goals when they were needed. The defense was tremendous all day, especially freshman Fiorito and Chad Wiedmaier, who forced three turnovers and held All-America Orange attackman Kenny Nims (two goals) basically in check. Princeton would have two separate runs of holding the Orange scoreless of at least 13 minutes, including a 14:58 that covered most of the fourth quarter and saw the Tigers pull away.
Princeton came into the game ranked 56th out of 57 teams in Division I in man-down defense, while Syracuse was ranked No. 1 in extra-man offense. Yale had gone 3 for 3 on extra-man opportunities against Princeton last week, and teams were scoring on better than 50% of their EMOs against the Tigers. Syracuse, on the other hand, was scoring on 67% of its EMOs.
The most telling moment of the game came when Brendan Reilly scored his third career goal to make it 8-6 Tigers with 4:22 to go in the third. The goal came man-down after a turnover and a fast break, and it meant that Princeton's man-down defense actually outscored Syracuse's extra-man offense. The Orange would go 0 for 4 on EMOs.
McBride started the scoring for Princeton four inutes in, and there would be three ties and no lead changes after that. Princeton led 5-2 at one point and 5-3 at halftime, but SU scored twice to tie at 5-5 to start the third quarter.
The Tigers answered with goals by McBride and Rob Engelke, who converted a quick stick after a feed from Scott MacKenzie, and SU would never tie the score again.
The Orange outshot Princeton 39-31. Stephen Keogh and Pat Perritt also scored twice.
Sgalardi, the reigning Ivy Player of the Week, had tow goals and two assists.
Syracuse leads the all-time series 16-9.
FROM SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY:
E. RUTHERFORD, N.J. – No. 5 Princeton (8-1) was efficient on offense and played solid defense in a 12-8 defeat of second-ranked Syracuse (7-2) at the inaugural Big City Classic at Giants Stadium on Saturday, April 4. The game was the centerpiece of a tripleheader presented by Inside Lacrosse, and the loss ended SU’s five-game winning streak.
The Tigers never trailed and scored on 38.7 percent (12-31 of its shots Saturday. Defensively, they held the Orange scoreless for stretches of 10 minutes, 12:50 and 14:59 in the contest. The Tigers also got a career performance from freshman goalie Tyler Fiorito, who made a personal-best 15 saves.
When the Orange offense did get going, it was seniors Kenny Nims, Pat Perritt and sophomore Stephen Keogh that led the way. They each scored twice in the contest. Senior Matt Abbott also contributed a goal and an assist for Syracuse. In addition, Abbott collected a career-best 10 ground balls in the game.
Despite the offensive struggles, the Orange held the advantage in shots (39-31), ground balls (40-25) and faceoffs (15-8). Sophomore Josh Knight had a career day in the faceoff circle, winning a personal-best 13 draws on 18 attempts (.722).
The two teams traded goals to start the game with Jack McBride scoring twice for the Tigers and Abbott having a hand in SU’s first two tallies. Abbott answered McBride’s opening goal with an unassisted score at the five-minute mark of the first quarter to tie the game and get the Orange on the board. After another McBride goal pushed Princeton in front, 2-1, Abbott dished to Keogh for a goal at the 1:17 mark to tie the game at 2-2.
A 3-0 run by the Tigers gave them a 5-2 margin with 3:38 to go in the first half. Syracuse stopped the run with an extra-man goal by Nims to cut the Princeton lead to 5-3 at the break.
The Orange looked to be gaining momentum, tying the game at 5-5 on back-to-back unassisted goals by Perritt and Nims to begin the third quarter, but Princeton answered right back with two scores to reclaim a two-goal margin, 7-5. Perritt cut the lead to one with 5:43 left in the third period on his second goal of the afternoon.
After a man-down goal by Brendan Reilly gave the Tigers an 8-6 advantage, the Orange stayed within striking distance when Hardy fed Keogh for a goal to make it 8-7 Princeton at the 2:11 mark of the third quarter.
Keogh’s goal proved to be SU’s last for more than 14 minutes and Tigers outscored the Orange, 4-0, during that time to put the game away. Mark Kovler and Rich Sgalardi combined for all four goals in the run with each player scoring twice. Kovler’s second goal in the spurt gave the Tigers its largest lead, 12-7, with 2:26 left in regulation. Freshman Kevin Drew found the cage 13 seconds later to end the SU scoring drought, but Princeton held the Orange without a score the rest of the way to earn the four-goal win.
Sgalardi (2g, 2a) and Kovler (3g, 1a) led the Tigers with four points apiece. McBride also had three goals for Princeton and Scott MacKenzie contributed a goal and two assists.
Syracuse returns to action on Tuesday, April 7 against another Ivy League opponent. The Orange hosts Cornell at 7 p.m.in the Carrier Dome. The game will be televised live on Time Warner 26 in the Syracuse area.
Game Notes: Sgalardi was named the player of the game in a vote by the media … The Orange’s 7-5 halftime deficit marked the first time this season SU trailed at the half … Nims extended his consecutive point streak to 25 games … Fifteen of Perritt’s 16 points this season have come in the last five games … Abbott has 18 ground balls in the last two games (9.0 per game) … Syracuse is now 0-3 in events organized by Inside Lacrosse.
Photography by Zach Babo.
|Mark Kovler||(3, 1)|
|Rich Sgalardi||(2, 2)|
|Scott Mackenzie||(1, 2)|
|Jack Mcbride||(3, 0)|
|Tommy Davis||(1, 1)|
|Chris Mcbride||(0, 1)|
|Brendan Reilly||(1, 0)|
|Rob Engelke||(1, 0)|
|Tyler Fiorito||15 (0.652)|