A 14-point scoring margin makes a subtle point. No. 11 Princeton rolled over Harvard on Jordan Field (Cambridge, MA) 18-4. Aside from restating the obvious that the victory makes for a pleasant cakewalk `W'; the more accurate observation is the nonverbal signaling to other conference members (e.g. in Ithaca) that the fight for the coveted AQ seat won't be a boring contest. The big man on campus for the day was Princeton sophomore attacker Ryan Boyle (Gilman, MD) who racked up a modest 4 goals and 5 assists. In addition to the shooting clinic put on by the Jersey boys, the unsung defensive achievements - especially on longstick D and the Swiss timed slides - made for some sweet, well executed lacrosse.
Despite entering the contest with a .500 record, Princeton was clearly the favorite. However, with just some minimal speculation about some of the games within the past two weeks you could easily whet any bookie's appetite. See if there's any logic here. The Tigers were fresh off a close shave 7-6 win against Duke on April 5, 2002. While the 0-4 Harvard record in Ivy play (4-5 overall) does speak volumes, some of the contests have been suggestively competitive. Harvard who was ranked No. 19 last week lost a tough one in conference play to Brown last Wednesday (8-9), and at one point they did hold No. 9 Cornell 4-2 at the half. Meanwhile, Brown dropped several one-goal games to impressive opponents like No. 1 Syracuse (13-14) and No. 8 UMass (14-15). On Saturday, No. 14 Yale upset of No. 8 UMass 11-9. It was the very sobering loss against Yale that put Princeton's eighth consecutive Ivy title at risk. "I was worried sick about that game (Harvard v. Princeton)... I think Harvard is an outstanding team. This is a great win for us," said Tiger coach Bill Tierney. The win wasn't only just great, but crucial. While Princeton was busy mauling the Crimson, Big Red took down Big Green in Ithaca, NY (12-6). Cornell's win juxtaposed against Princeton's win stages a huge game next weekend when the Tigers will host Big Red on April 20th at 1952 Stadium. Needless to say, the stakes are high, the field is competitive, there's only one AQ, and an unbankable at large bid. Therefore with the seventh of six NCAA championships in the past ten years, let alone an appearance, in question, you do the math. Princeton needed the win.
Perhaps the punctured mesh down on the Princeton end during the warm up meant to serve as some foreshadowing. Somehow Princeton seemed different from the start - key benchmark behaviors seemed curiously absent. The most ironic comment of the day came from the coaches off the Tiger bench screaming, "Patience! Slow it down!" Princeton showcased a quicker tempo on offense. The Tigers broke away from the middie invert that was key in their NCAA 2001 Championship win against Syracuse. Instead, the ball on a majority of the plays was worked from the top. Boyle usually worked the ball when it was behind. Junior Tiger defender Damien Davis (Gilman, MD) kept Harvard leading scorer Matt Primm and 'proper' as he clamped down on Crimson's top gun. Davis' efforts were highlighted by a slew of impressive long stick defensive plays. The slides were well timed and crease D was absolutely impenetrable. To summarize the pre-game predictions statistically, Princeton is no. 9 in the nation on offense averaging 12 points/game and no. 8 on defense allowing 7.89 goals/game. Harvard had a challenge ahead. The Crimson performance however was different story. The offense seemed unsure and junior Doug Logigian couldn't buy a shot for the day (well perhaps one) as he sprayed shots from way out both wide and high. Defensively, while hats off to Princeton for great all around crease play, Crimson seemed flatfooted and disoriented. Despite a lack luster performance by his supporting cast, Harvard goalie sophomore Jake McKenna (Taft, CT) made an impressive 26 saves on the day.
Harvard snagged the faceoff at the top of the first period and worked the ball down into Tiger territory. Crimson junior attacker Matt Primm fired the ball early from the top right one step inside of the restraining line. The shot pegged Tiger keeper Julian Gould (Nyack, NY) off the helmet. Crimson recovered the ricocheted rebound and worked the ball around the cage. Tight middie Tiger D forced a turnover and Princeton wasted no time in getting the ball down to senior Dan Clark (Moorestown, NJ) who cranked from leftside top of the box and hit mesh low with a righty skimmer at 11:21 (1-0). The rest of the period closed out with neither team finding the back of the net. Both teams shot from up top and either went wide or helped pad opposing goalie stats with body shots. In the final two minutes of the period, Harvard intercepted Gould's clear and had an open tarmac shot to an even more open cage but went wide. For the 1,244 in attendance, the collective sigh at the missed shot was one of a few crowd participation events on the gorgeous Saturday.
Princeton's faceoff specialist sophomore Drew Casino (Ward Melville, NY) took the faceoff at the start of the second period. Tiger junior attacker Sean Hartofilis (St. Anthony's, NY) nailed sophomore Ryan Boyle who flash cut high from behind the cage. Boyle had an easy two and half steps on his long stick D and found a soft spot below top left pipe at 14:13 (2-0). Casino took the face again and few seconds later Harvard called for a timeout at 13:53. After the whistle, Crimson worked the ball on X and senior Michael Baly (Westfield, NJ) fed cross crease cutter Logigian who then shot wide. Junior Princeton long stick D Brian Lieberman (Syosset, NY) gained good hip-to-hip positioning against his man and stripped him of the ball. The caused turnover resulted in Princeton's third goal. Tiger senior Kyle Baugher (Manhasset, NY) found junior Owen Daly (McDonough, MD) up top who then fired a lefty low shot (3-0). Princeton converted on an EMO with a goal from Hartofilis. Boyle fed Hartofilis up high who then unleashed a nasty low to high crank that hit top shelf left at 9:46 (4-0). Less than one minute later Boyle scored unassisted when rolled on the keeper's rightside crease and dove in with a shot (5-0). Boyle again made his crease D look like an All-Star when he scored on a shortie bouncer at 6:15 (6-0). Middie Tiger Brad Dumont (McDonough, MD) took advantage of the situation when his D man lost his stick on an uncalled wrap check. Dumont went in and out of 5 o'clock traffic and took it to the hole on a smooth roll dodge finishing with a bouncer (7-0). Harvard called for at timeout twelve seconds later at 4:47. The next goal started with a save from Princeton's Gould who then kicked off the fast break. Just when you thought Princeton was going to go back taking care of the ball the Country Time way, the transition series was capped off with several short quick money passes and another goal by Daly off a feed from an unusually quiet B.J Prager (Garden City, NY) at 4:01 (8-0). Boyle scored his last of the period. Princeton broke down into a 1-4-1 with Boyle behind. Boyle took advantage of his D man's tea break and came down from a dive shot low (9-0). Crimson's Logigian finally broke the scoring embargo with a sweet shot from up top. Logigian worked the screens and seared the mesh with a crank that grazed Gould's right hip (1-9). Harvard offense only managed four goals against Cornell as well, but displayed more confidence in that game. The Princeton scoring bonanza, half of which already had occurred, seemed to silence everyone from line D to offense. Harvard wasted shot opportunities by going for the net too early without moving the keeper. If easy reads didn't make Gould look any better, Harvard's turnovers on offense did.
The whistle at the top of the third started a sloppy ground ball drill gone from bad to worse as both teams wrestled for possession. Harvard finally came up with the face and got the ball to senior Derek Novak (Hotchkiss, CT) who shot from top right. Crimson sophomore Alex Vap (St. Albanas, MD) fed Novak who then shot low corner pocket (2-9). Princeton's Daly registered a hat trick with a close range low to high top right shot at 10:57 (10-2). Coach's kid Brendan Tierney punctuated a series of short quick passes in the paint off a feed from Daly on an EMO at 7:49 (11-2). The next goal came from Hartofilis as he bit turf on a low shot dive for the bottom right corner. Hartofilis came up with the ball after as loose ball scurry around the crease (12-2). Harvard's Mike Baly gave the Princeton offense some rest with a goal. Baly who looked like he was warding as he cut hard from the top of the box hit top left corner (3-12). Princeton junior Josh White (St. Mary's, MD) rounded out the scoring blitz in the third with a shin high shot on McKenna (13-3).
At the start of the final period, Princeton got the faceoff. Boyle found Dumont who came flying in out of nowhere on an explosive top right cut for the goal (14-3). Princeton swung the ball behind on a 1-4-1 with none other than Boyle in the driver's seat. Boyle came up the goalie's left side along the crease and split the D who left Tierney way too exposed in the hole for a candy shot. Tierney tacked a sharp bouncer that hit the back net high (15-3). The next two Princeton goals came from Fallon and Prager. Prager's EMO goal brought the score to (17-3). Crimson's Vap took the ball straight from the face to the back of the net for Harvard's last goal of the day (17-4). The final Princeton shot resulted from an EMO goal by Tierney. Boyle had the ball up top and found Tierney parked on the crease who then psyched out McKenna with a fake high dump low shot. The final score of the day was 18-4 Princeton.
The win underscores an unusual, but highly effective Tiger offense, a merciless defense and an uninspired performance by their Harvard counterparts. Princeton had a 33% shooting average to Harvard's 12.5% performance. Princeton was able to convert on 4/5 EMOs. The defensive effort against Crimson rivaled Princeton's performance against Hofstra earlier this season on March 16, 2001. Tiger Damien Davis came out strong in the 12-4 drubbing over Hofstra as well as against Harvard. He was paired up against leading scorer Matt Primm who failed to use his 6-3, 230 lb. momentum to his competitive advantage. All eyes will be on 1952 Stadium next week as the pre-prom party to the final dance will undoubtedly get rowdy. The Tiger women had an easy day as well over Harvard 14-4. Tiger freshman Lindsey Biles (Annapolis, MD) rallied for four goals and senior Charlotte Kentworthy (Frazer, PA) notched a hat trick.
Harvard vs. Princeton