With their best attackman, BJ Prager, going down yesterday with a torn ACL it would be expected that the Tiger offense would look a little out of sync today, but the story of the day was really the two team's defenses. The well coached, usually stellar Princeton defense was unable to keep a lid on the Orangemen offense, but on the other side of the ball, the Syracuse defense played out of their heads and held the Tigers to only four goals the entire day (with one of those coming in the last five minutes of the game).
The Syracuse offense started early and struck often. #21-Tim Byrnes(3g-0a) finished a lefty bounce shot from up top, putting it over Tierney's shoulder into the upper right off of a skip pass from #22-Ryan Powell(1g-6a). #32-Josh Coffman(1g-2a) scored the second Syracuse goal off another feed from Powell, followed up by Powell's lone goal of the day, which was assisted by #3-Liam Banks(2g-2a). The first three consecutive goals of the game by Syracuse lead to a Tiger timeout by Coach Tierney. This timeout looked to have settled Princeton down, as they were able to convert a man-up play on which they shifted from a 1-3-2 set to a 1-4-1, which lead to a #3-Owen Daly(1g-0a) goal from #42-Chris Harrington(0g-1a). This put the game at 3-1 in favor of Syracuse and ended the 3 goal run, but 'Cuse started up another scoring drive immediately with a #31-Devin Darcangelo(2g-2a) score from a Coffman feed, and another Tim Byrnes goal. On the last possession of the opening quarter, Powell drove from behind and hit Springer, who was hanging out up top. Springer fired the ball, which Tierney was able to get a piece of but couldn't control, Banks picked up the loose rebound on the crease and threw in a garbage goal with 2 seconds left. Syracuse came out ready to play and Princeton looked more than shakey in the first, as the quarter ended at 6-1.
The second quarter scoring opened with Springer(about two yards inside the box) firing a feed from Coffman into the upper left corner right past Tierney, 7-1. Princeton's second goal of the day, to end the 4 goal Syracuse run, came off a #3-Matt Striebel(0g-2a) backdoor feed to #2-Brendan Tierney chilling on the backside, who quicksticked it by a diving Mulligan. The Tierney goal brought the game score to 7-2 and set up the Plays of the Day.
Notice this is not just a Play of the Day, but the Plays of th Day, and probably the most exciting sequence of plays seen so far this year. Syracuse came flying down the field and ran a classic 3 pass 4-3 break, with Springer getting the ball on the left side and his stick in his left hand. As Springer goes to finish this beautifully executed 4-3, Trevor Tierney dives across the crease and makes an incredible save against Springer. This classic break followed by the highlight diving save by Tierney was plenty, but it is Easter and we got a little more. Tierney gets the ball, and himself, up off the turf to clear the ball. Springer(who just got stuffed) gets a piece of Tierney's pass, sending the ball up in the air barely out of the restraining box. Powell gets his hands on the stray clear and whips an around-the-back pass to a slashing Springer, who catches and finishes with a backhanded goal past Tierney. Great fast break, great diving save, great around-the-back Powell feed, and a great Springer backhanded goal. Happy Easter. Two more Syracuse goals put the score at 10-2 going into halftime.
As the two teams warmed-up for the second half, it was tough to tell whether this was a #2 vs #4 matchup. Was Princeton going to be able to come out all fired up and make a game of it, or was 'Cuse going to be able to continue to play solid defense and create multiple scoring opportunities?
Well, Princeton came out and scored the first goal of the second half as Striebel found an open Sims in the middle, who then pinged the lower right corner to cut the lead to 10-3. That would actually be it for Princeton's scoring on the day, except for one more goal late in the fourth quarter after the game had been decided. Powell and Co. reeled off 3 more in the 3rd quarter. Byrnes finished yet another feed from Powell, as Tierney barely reacted on the high shot until it was in the back of the net. Powell once again dishes the ball from behind to an anxious Springer who... you guessed it, fired one high upper right past Tierney. The Powell to Springer routine was almost getting boring by now, but it hit again, as Powell received a bounce pass after getting open on a backdoor cut, then passing it to Springer, who one-times it in. The 3rd ended with Syracuse up 13-3 and with more than a strong grip on the game.
The fourth quarter started off with a Darcangelo goal for Syracuse and then the two teams went back and forth as the game's clock continued to tick down towards zero. One Princeton and two Syracuse goals were scored late in the fourth with little significance on the outcome of the game. Syracuse wins this Easter Sunday classic 16-4, and shows why they are one of if not the best team in the nation. Syracuse teams have always been competitive and exciting to watch because of their offensive abilities, but this year they have a little kicker. This year the Orangemen have got something brewing upstate with goalie Rob Mulligan and his defensive core of Abrams, Glatzel, St. George, and Ceglia making up an extremely stingy defensive unit that can flat out shut teams down. While Princeton's offense is now missing their top gun with Prager gone for the season, and with their defense unable to keep the Syracuse offense in check today, don't count them out. Give Coach Tierney and his staff some time and few practices in order to start compensating for the loss of Prager, and team loss to Syracuse, and they will be clicking in time for the playoffs.
Princeton vs. Syracuse