2010’s New England Lacrosse Classic saw Princeton University defeat Brown University and Dartmouth College shock Cornell University, but 2011’s Ivy League match-up on Saturday saw last year’s winners pinned up against one another. The result? Princeton doubled Dartmouth, 8-4.
“Huge, huge (win for us),” said Princeton head coach Chris Bates, a 1990 Dartmouth graduate. “I mean we needed it. Dartmouth is a good team, well coached team. So it was huge for us. We needed this one.”
“There’s no question that if you’re going to turn the ball over 18 times against a quality opponent, you’re probably not going to win,” said Dartmouth head coach Andrew Towers.
“It’s immensely frustrating to have a group of guys who care so much about the program and team being successful, and you know, having stick fundamentals, stick mistakes account for 18 turnovers in a game that we felt was a very winnable game and a great opportunity to move our program forward,” continued Towers.
Princeton’s Luke Armour scored the first goal of the game at 4:27 in the first quarter, with a falling throw from the left of the crease against Dartmouth’s goalkeeper, Fergus Campbell.
Patrick Resch tied it 1-all for Dartmouth at 10:36 in the second from the attack, scoring on Princeton’s goalie, Tyler Fiorito, with the assist from Kip Dooley.
“Kip is a phenomenal, phenomenal guy,” Towers said. “He’s one of the best leaders I’ve been around, one of the hardest workers I’ve been around (and) he’s a phenomenal lacrosse player. He’s an emotional, competitive, natural leader who the guys look to at crunch time and he’s consistently delivered through his first three years here and I think he’s one of the best players in the country and I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.”
Princeton then charged ahead for the lead at 5:04, making it 2-1 from a Jeff Froccaro score (four goals) by a Tom Schreiber assist (one goal, three assists).
“(Froccaro) … struggled this year a little bit finding the back of the net,” Bates said. “He obviously put the ball away today, so that’s encouraging … and Schreiber’s made some big plays.
“We’ve struggled offensively this year; that’s an understatement,” continued Bates. “We need those two. It was good to see Jeff get on track.”
Dartmouth came back to tie it once again, 2-all, when Dooley nailed his shot from just outside the crease with 0:15 remaining in the second quarter.
The first half ended with a 2-2 score, with Princeton outshooting Dartmouth, 24-16.
“At halftime we thought we were actually in pretty good shape,” Bates said. “You know we generated 24 shots. Their goalie (Campbell) had played very well; 12 saves in the first half. So it wasn’t a sense of panic. We felt like, you know alright, they’re bending, we just got to get them to break.”
And break Dartmouth, Princeton did. The Tigers held a three-goal advantage, 6-3, at 13:03 in the fourth.
Froccaro, Schreiber, Chris McBride and Long Ellis made shots for Princeton; Ellis with a Tiger Woods first pump and a grass dive celebration, while Dartmouth’s Brendan Rotanz nailed a running goal, the team’s third.
Jeff Perkins put a bouncing shot in back of Princeton’s net while falling at 9:58 in the fourth, bringing Dartmouth behind by just two at 6-4.
But, Froccaro knew he wanted victory for Princeton and he knew how to get it; by scoring the team’s final two goals of the night at 6:48 and 1:41, with the latter being when he came from around the left corner on an almost open net just as Campbell scrambled back for the attempted block.
“Princeton’s a great opponent and their coaches do a great job of getting those guys ready to compete,” said Towers, “and I think that in the end I feel like it’s probably an issue of us not catching, throwing (and) scooping the ball consistently and it falls back on me as the head coach, as not structuring practice in a way that develops those key fundamentals in a manner that allows us to replicate them on game day. I felt that in the end our lack of fundamentals and some stick did us in.
“We put a very good effort in and I know my guys care a great deal about this opportunity,” continued Towers, “and I know they feel fortunate enough to play lacrosse at this level to represent Dartmouth and I’m proud of the physical effort that these guys made.”
“Until the very end it was never at a reach,” Bates said, “but you know we felt good. I thought … defensively we played well and then (we) got a couple opportunities … in the third period that I think just gave us a little bit of a sigh of relief that, alright, we can solve the goalie and put some balls in the back of the net. That was critical.”