The first half was a clinic. Looking for disciplined offense with great rotation against the grain, patient dodging and passing? Princeton had it. Looking for pinpoint shooting? Princeton had it. Ditto for ground balls, opportunistic turnovers, swarming, double-teaming-in-waves defense, and just plain luck. Even though their uniforms are carbon copies of one another, somehow Princeton's looked better today.
Dewall popped in the first of the day for Hobart, and it would their only goal of the half. The Tigers employed their usual patient, to the point of irritation (mine), offense, and while Hobart's defense was aggresive, talented, and smart, the chips didn't seem to be falling their way. If a ball was loose on the sidelines, Princeton would routinely come away from the scrum with possession, a couple of Hobart defensemen out of position, and someone wide open ten yards off the crease. While they managed to run up the halftime score to 9-1, it was only Sims who stood out on an individual level. He breezed by defenders with an almost casual effort, and even when he bulled in off the right wing for a score, he made it look like he weighed 300 pounds. Most of the Tiger's offense, aside from Sims, was the by-product of over-aggressive Hobart D or the lightning fast transition generated br Davis, Mollet, and Tierney. That transition was definitely helped by Hobart's penchant for rushed, zero-angle shots -- I counted at least 4 shots for Jared Bebee that I wasn't even sure were from in front of the goal. Meanwhile, Princeton was sliding from everywhere on D, and Hobart was often a half-second behind on dishing it or pulling it out. The result? Not a lot of time with the ball in the first half. The half even ended with a nice Damien Davis pick on Breslin driving goal line extended, which he whipped 50 yards down to Tierney, who whipped across to Sims, who finished with style on a helpless Murtha.
Hobart came out on fire in the second -- Bebee started it off with a 7 yard rip to the upper right off of a failed Tiger clear. Then Oullett took the face, rushed down the middle, faked across, and put it off-stick hip. Murtha, who was average in the first half, started coming up big with a handful of acrobatic saves -- a couple times I could swear he pulled his groin. Bebee made it 9-4 when he stuck a high bouncer to the upper left from exactly he same spot as before (7 yards off the left post). The fans got rowdy, Princeton took a timeout, and this was looking like a game. Hobart was also becoming much more patient on offense, moving the ball around and pulling it out if nothing materialized (the pulled a lot of kamikazies in the first half). But Princeton regrouped and started blanketing Hobart's shooters -- Breslin was completely taken out of the picture all day by Davis, who plays incredible position D, and the Tigers were all over the ground balls. Hobart did have some studs on D that could throw the pickaxes, most notably Chris Rogers, but Princeton plays like a team in every sense of the word -- nobody tries to do more than they're capable of.
Sims cut short Hobart's uprising by sticking two unassisted goals, just a minute or so apart, to push the lead back up to 11-4 at the start of the fourth quarter, and that's when Hobart started feeling the clock ticking. Apparently, they drop a lot of passes when the clock is ticking. Princeton played heir version of keep-away with just 11:00 minutes left in the fouth, and aside from meaningless goals by Niebuhr and Cain at the 10:46 and 0:21 marks, the game was over after the third.
Hobart vs. Princeton