You have to wonder what would be going through the minds of Coach Tierney and the No. 3 ranked Princeton squad on the eve of the NCAA tournament selection date had the Tigers conceded the Ivy title to No. 16 ranked Brown. But at this point, that’s just a wasted hypothetical and frankly, not even worth the two cent speculation. Instead of surrendering their post-season hopes into the hands of a political body, Princeton traded and upgraded, big time, a risky at-large bid option for an almighty AQ bid as the Tigers edged out the Bears 12-10 for their eighth straight Ivy League title and ninth in the last 10 years. Senior attacker B.J. Prager (Garden City, NY) had the Billy Dee Colt 45-touch on the day with four goals for Princeton while Junior attacker Jonathon Thompson (North Yarmouth Academy, ME) led the Bears with four goals and one assist.
With the clock under eight minutes in the fourth quarter, Princeton led Brown 12-8. The crowd of nearly 3,400 on hand at Stevenson Field (Providence, RI), seemed just as anxious as the players and coaches alike. Coach Tierney didn’t waste any poetry on reminding his squad of the stakes involved. After a caused turnover by Junior attacker Sean Hartofolis (St. Anthony’s, NY), a heated Tierney roared, "Sean, we’ve got a championship on the line!" Needless to say, the perennial posterboys for the Ivy League and NCAA titles have had to work especially hard this season. Coach Tierney knew the landscape all too well entering Saturday’s end of season game and conference championship. Tierney commented, "I think this year made everyone in the program really appreciate how important an Ivy League championship is... When we were running through undefeated every year, people may have started to take it for granted. But this year show how tough the league is, and Brown showed today how tough a team it is."
No. 3 ranked Princeton entered the contest with a 7-4 overall record and 4-1 in Ivy. No. 16 ranked Brown 7-6 overall record and an identical Ivy record of 4-1. The momentum prior to the conference championship had been building for both teams. For Princeton, the Tigers have had to reinvent themselves after the conference 13-15 loss to Yale on March 30, which ended a 37-game league-winning streak. Entering the game, Princeton had completed a successful Ivy tour taking Harvard 18-4, No. 10 ranked Cornell 12-7 and Dartmouth 13-7. Meanwhile, Brown has proven to be a bookie’s favorite on occasion. Last weekend on April 27th, Brown had a huge upset over No. 10 ranked Cornell 9-8 (2 O.T). Junior middie Chas Gessner (Good Counsel, MD) scored the game-tying goal with 1:24 remaining in regulation and sank the game-winner at 1:07 in the second overtime period. Despite the underdog heroics, the Bears have demonstrated their inconsistency. While dropping one-goal games to UMass and Syracuse, they were soundly beat by top ten contenders like Georgetown 6-16 and Loyola 6-8. Therefore with Brown’s win over Cornell, the Saturday game was shaping up to be winner takes all scenario.
Princeton gained possession of the faceoff at the top of the first period. Sophomore middie Drew Casino (Ward Melville, NY) used his 6’3, 218 lb. frame to launch the Tiger assault at mere :25 seconds into the game. Casino ploughed in topside left and shot a lefty bouncer, which clipped lower left corner for 1-0. Brown snagged the face and worked the ball on a 2-2-2 with Brown’s middie Chas Gessner (Good Counsel, MD) as a nice 6’5, 210 lb. target parked on the crease. Freshman attacker Chazz Woodson (Blue Ridge School, VA) started with the ball up top and worked his defender with a stutter step-fake-roll dodge combo (the kid’s got moves) and shot the ball left low and wide. Junior Tiger defender Joe Rosenbaum (McDonough School, MD) stripped Brown Senior attacker Jimmy Mormile (Oceanside, NY). At 2:49, Brown leveled the field off a shot from Gessner who was assisted by Sophomore middie Richard Tuohey (Gilman School, MD). Brown worked the ball on X and after a missed shot, Tuohey fed from up top to an open Gessner who was in the hole. Gessner then turned and fired away grazing Junior keeper Julian Gould’s (Nyack, NY) right hip (1-1). Princeton took the faceoff and Junior longstick defender Damien Davis (Gilman School, MD) was down in Bear country and managed a shot, which went wide. The teams traded possession and errant shots on goal for nearly eight minutes until Princeton rattled off three goals in one minute. To put it simply, Princeton was on fire. The ball rarely went behind and the Old School Princetonian offense built on patience was nowhere to be seen. In a series of three quick passes, Junior middie Matt Trevenen (Montclair, NJ) found a wide open Junior middie Owen Daly (McDonough School, MD) on the crease who then unleashed a lefty shot that hit lower left pipe (2-1) at 10:07. Sophomore attacker Ryan Boyle (Gilman School, MD) fed a cross-crease pass to Senior attacker B.J. Prager (Garden City, NY) who then tagged upper 90 left corner (3-1) at 10:16. Brown’s slides couldn’t keep pace with the fast ball movement on Princeton offense. Boyle had been knocked down off his follow through and the ref released the flag. The Brown crew felt frustrated with the call and subsequently was issued with a penalty from the official. Prager scored his second goal of the game increasing the margin by three at 10:43 off a feed from Senior attacker Brendan Tierney (Hun School, NJ). Tierney fed from the top of the box to an open Prager who was three-steps outside of the upper right lip of the crease. Prager released quickly hitting lower left corner (4-1). Princeton snagged the face but possession changed. Princeton defense added serious pressure to the Bear offense. Senior attacker Jimmy Mormile (Oceanside, NY) was tripled in the hole and turned over the ball. Brown maintained possession and Gessner found an open Mormile who fired and hit pipe. Junior attacker Jonathon Thompson (North Yarmouth Academy, ME) caught the rebound and fired, this time hitting mesh lower left corner at 12:58 (2-4). Brown snagged possession of the faceoff but Senior middie Kyle Baugher (Manhasset, NY) stripped his mark of the ball. Junior middie Josh White (St. Mary’s, MD) cut in topside right and shot at the pipe. Senior attacker B.J. Prager (Garden City, NY) finished by snagging the rebound and whipping one in upper 90 right (5-2).
Princeton gained possession of the faceoff at the start of the second period. Boyle started the ball behind the cage for Princeton. The Tigers shifted from a 1-3-2 to a 2-2-2 and Senior attacker Brendan Tierney (Hun School, NJ) converted on a looseball on the crown of the crease for a scrappy recovery resulting in a low lefty bouncer (6-2). Brown intervened in the Tiger momentum with a clutch defensive turnover in the midfield, which lit up the offense. Thompson unleashed a shot in the hole reducing the margin to three (3-6) one minute into the second period. At this point, momentum seemed to have shifted in favor of the Bears. They were able to slow down the Princeton offense and keep the ball down on their offensive end longer. When Princeton reverted back to their Old School style of play, Brown demonstrated the defensive patience to match. As soon as the ball was turned over, the Bears were able to take care of the ball and bring it securely down into their territory. Freshman attacker Chazz Woodson (Blue Ridge School, VA) bolted in from the top of the box and got a bouncer off reducing the margin to two (4-6) at 6:03. Princeton responded with a deuce to match. Junior attacker Sean Hartofolis (St. Anthony’s, NY) scored two minutes later off a feed from Junior middie Matt Trevenen (Montclair, NJ) (7-4). Trevenen had the ball behind right side and found Hartofolis cutting from leftside up top. Hartofolis shot lower right corner. Tigers called for a timeout at 12:20. At the whistle, Tigers gained possession and Josh White closed out the period with a lefty crank that hit top right at 12:55 (8-4).
Brown kicked off the third quarter with two unanswered goals. The first goal came from Thompson who hit top left seam (5-8) off an assist from Gessner at 1:13. Brown took the faceoff and proceeded to work the crease until Senior Tiger defender Scott Farrell (Corning East, NY) got called for slashing. Junior attacker Michael Hughes (South Side, NY) converted on a key defensive caused turnover with a lefty bouncer that hit lower left pipe (6-8). Princeton responded with two goals to close out the third period. After working the ball on the left side of the box and drawing out the defense, Dan Clark (Moorestown, NJ) cut from up top and hit lower left corner with a back-heel curled low sweeper (9-6). White scored off an assist from Trevenen who held the ball up top. Princeton offense clogged the hole with a stack chock full of junior-sized picks until a White was freed up for a shot that was hip-high left side (10-6).
Brown scored four of the six goals in the final period. The first goal came from Senior attacker Jimmy Mormile (Oceanside, NY). Mormile caught his rebound and beat out Princeton keeper Gould and fired over his right shoulder for 7-10. Princeton responded with a lower 90 goal from Daly who was assisted by Boyle (11-7). Gessner score for Brown off an assist from Thompson as his shot clear Gould’s left hip (8-11). Prager responded with his fourth goal of the game with a feed from Tierney at 7:46 (12-8). Prager worked the right side of the hole and released a quick lefty bouncer. With the clock running down, the tension became evident on both sides. Princeton was unable to go into a smooth stall. The offense turned it over a couple of times. Boyle was called on a slash and Hartofolis overthrew the pass behind – both actions eliciting a lashing from the coach. Woodson scored again for Brown at 11:08 (12-9). Princeton called for a timeout. Twenty seconds after the whistle, Brown called for a timeout. Thompson who was assisted by Tuohey scored the final goal of the game (10-12) at 13:30. Princeton ran out the rest of the minute and half remaining in the period. Final score 12-10 Princeton.
At the end of the day, it came down to business. Head to head Princeton and Brown were pretty even on all balance sheet items. Brown edged out Princeton on shots on goals (34-30). Keeper Julian Gould had 12 saves to sophomore Bear Mike Levin’s 13 (Pittsford Mendon, NY). Brown won 14 of 25 faceoffs. Both teams were even on ground balls – about 33 a piece. The Tigers were able to convert on 3 of 7 EMOs while Brown only 1 of 5. The key difference was that Princeton was able to leverage their experience and mental toughness as a key asset. Going into the tournament, Princeton is peaking at the right time. The defensive unit has been solid and the revived Princeton offense has proven to be a secret weapon. While Gould is no Bacigalupo - that being a possible weakness, this squad may go further than critics and coaches would like. Tournament selection starts on May 5, while first round NCAA action starts next weekend.
Brown vs. Princeton
|Bj Prager||(4, 0)|
|Matt Trevenen||(0, 3)|
|Brendan Tierney||(1, 2)|
|Owen Daly||(2, 0)|
|Josh White||(2, 0)|
|Ryan Boyle||(0, 2)|
|Drew Casino||(1, 0)|
|Mark Pellegrino||(0, 1)|
|Sean Hartofilis||(1, 0)|
|Dan Clark||(1, 0)|