Princeton, NJ – The #3 Cornell Big Red went up 2-0, but the #17 Princeton Tigers rattled off eight straight goals as they handled their Ivy League foe for the upset. The Tigers were led by a solid defensive effort, three first quarter goals by Bob Schneider and three goals and an assist for Tommy Davis, along with two goals and an assist by Peter Striebel. Cornell was paced by Max Seibald, despite a nice job of Princeton All-American defenseman Dan Cocoziello limiting his effectiveness.
The fast start for Cornell quickly turned into a methodical clinic by Princeton. The only stat that Cornell really dominated in was at the faceoff circle. The fourth quarter was the only the only quarter that Princeton won more than one faceoff. Overall, Cornell won 16-of-21, but Princeton’s pressure on defense along with a bit of an off day for Cornell offensively compensated for the Tigers.
Princeton catered their defense towards doing what it could to shut down 1st-Team All-American Max Seibald. Seibald lined up at attack for most of the game and was covered when possible with Princeton’s Cocoziello. On man-up, the Tigers tried to shut him off. When Seibald did manage to get the ball on man-up, he attempted to dodge with a quick slide coming that helped shut Cornell’s extra man-unit out. In settled offensive situations, Cornell’s offense seemed to begin and end with Seibald. He mainly tried to iso from behind at X. After scoring the first tally of the game, Seibald didn’t strike again until the Big Red were down 8-2 and he had to stop the Tiger run.
With Princeton’s defense playing well and All-American Alex Hewitt in goal contributing 10 saves, Cornell didn’t seem to have an offensive answer beyond Seibald. On quite a few occasions Cornell’s offensive players got their hands free for a shot to only put a low percentage outside shot right into Hewitt’s stick, making his job even easier. They had trouble penetrating and generating high percentage shots inside to give them a chance in this game.
At the end of the game down four, Cornell controlled the possession and were desperately trying to get something going. A turnover eventually led to a phantom goal by Princeton. Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni was perplexed by the call, and as the replay showed, with good reason. It didn’t appear that the ball went in the net. Alas, instead of a 10-6 lead, Princeton was granted an 11-6 lead. With just under two minutes left, following a stoppage Cornell controlled the ball. The sloppy play of Cornell’s offense fittingly continued. Seibald possessed the ball at about the restraining line completely unaware, until it was too late, of Princeton shortstick d-middie Zack Goldberg streaking from midfield to strip him. Around the same time Cornell forced a turnover on the defensive side of the field, only to have a cross-field pass fly out-of-bounds around midfield over Rocco Romero’s reach.
Cornell midfielder John Glynn was dominant facing off with an 11-of-14 day, 8 groundballs. He had a solid day in-between the lines as well, but as with the whole group struggled offensively. Seibald for his efforts had 12 shots, good for over 15% of his season’s total in shots.
Princeton, offensively, was pretty efficient as they worked the ball around and controlled the pace for extended periods at a time. Freshman Jack McBride continued his hot hand, as he has scored two or more goals in each of the last five games. Cocoziello got his hand in the act as he scooped up a groundball and pushed transition. On the fast break he moved it to McBride who put a hard low shot past Cornell goalie Jake Myers.
The effort today by Princeton came at an opportune time in a must-win game. The Tigers were able to keep the Big Red over four goals under their average of 11 goals per game scored, while going above their average offensive output (9.4). At 6-4 heading into the game, the only guaranteed way that Princeton was going to make the tournament was to win the Ivy League AQ. That road ran through Cornell. With the win, Princeton has set themselves up to be in the driver’s seat with a showdown set for their roadtrip to Brown who are also undefeated currently. The road for Brown has to run through both Cornell and Princeton, while if Princeton takes care of business next weekend at 5-7 Dartmouth, they control their own fate with a win at Brown.
From Press Release
Bill Tierney said he couldn't remember a bigger regular season win for his Princeton men's lacrosse team. With apologies to all of the great wins Tierney's teams have had through his Hall-of-Fame career at Princeton, there haven't been too many that came at a better time.
Princeton fell behind early before taking complete control and rolling to an 11-7 win over No. 3 Cornell in front of 4,053 at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. The win left Princeton and Brown tied for first place in the Ivy League at 4-0 and ended a four-year losing streak for Princeton against the Big Red.
Princeton, now 7-4 overall after its third-straight win, has Ivy League games remaining next Saturday at Dartmouth and May 3 at Brown. Cornell, now 9-3 overall and 4-1 in the Ivy League, hosts Brown next Saturday as the league race can still end with an outright champ, co-champions or tri-champions.
"We knew what was at stake," said Princeton goalie Alex Hewit. "The league, the NCAA tournament - there was a lot on the line."
Cornell came into the game ranked third in the USILA coaches' poll and fourth in the Inside Lacrosse media poll, while Princeton was ranked 17th and 19th. Still, the comparative results between the teams was almost identical. Both lost to No. 1 Syracuse by seven in games played four days apart. Princeton defeated Penn 14-5; Cornell defeated Penn 13-5. Cornell defeated Yale in overtime and Harvard by four; Princeton defeated Harvard in overtime and Yale by three.
Tierney said before the game that his team could not get out to a slow start, something that had plagued Princeton in its last three defeats against the Big Red. It appeared that history was repeating itself when Cornell scored twice on goals by Max Seibald and Chris Finn in the first 3:26 to make it 2-0.
By the time Cornell scored again, though, Princeton already had more goals than it would need. The Tigers ripped off eight straight goals to lead 4-2 after the first, 7-2 at halftime and 8-2 by the time Cornell got back on the board, after a 31:28 scoreless stretch. Cornell would get no closer than four the rest of the way.
Bob Schneider, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week after scoring four goals last week against Harvard including the game-winner in overtime, scored three goals in the first quarter against the Big Red as the Tigers began the turnaround. Schneider scored 1:51 after Finn's goal to make it 2-1, and Tommy Davis tied it with 5:22 to play in the first. Schneider scored two more in the quarter to give him seven in the last two games.
"We learned a lot from the game last week," Schneider said. "We learned we can come back in a game. We weren't rattled when they scored. We stayed confident. They're a good team, but we kept going."
Schneider would not score again in the game, but Princeton would. Pete Striebel, Alex Haynie and Jack McBride all scored in the second quarter, and Striebel scored again early in the third to make it 8-2.
The defense, meanwhile, kept swarming the Big Red, forcing turnovers and tough shots and keeping the high-powered Cornell offense from scoring. Even after Siebald and Ryan Hurley scored to break the long scoreless drought, Davis and McBride answered for Princeton to build it to 10-4.
Cornell dominated face-offs, winning 15 of 21, but possession did not turn into goals. Alex Hewit made 10 saves for Princeton. The Tigers outshot the Big Red 37-36.
"This team has really handled us of late," said Tierney. "They're great shooters. They really move the ball well. I thought our defense was amazing. This was one we really needed. Like I told the team, it's been awhile since we' had one like this. Now we have to keep it going. Dartmouth and Brown are going to be huge challenges."
Davis had an assist to go with his three goals. Siebald had three goals for Cornell.
|Tommy Davis||(3, 1)|
|Pete Striebel||(2, 1)|
|Bob Schneider||(3, 0)|
|Jack Mcbride||(2, 0)|
|Scott Mackenzie||(0, 1)|
|Dan Cocoziello||(0, 1)|
|Alex Haynie||(1, 0)|
|Chris Mcbride||(0, 1)|
|Alex Hewit||10 (0.588)|