Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 13
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
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RICH AND POWERFUL: Princeton University men’s lacrosse senior midfielder Rich Sgalardi, left, heads up the field in recent action. Last Saturday, Sgalardi scored a career-high five points to lead fifth-ranked Princeton to an 11-7 win at Yale in its Ivy League opener. Sgalardi, who has 22 points this spring after scoring a total of 18 in his first three seasons, was named the Ivy League Player of the Week for his performance. The Tigers, now 7-1, will need Sgalardi to keep up his hot play as they face No. 2 Syracuse this Saturday in the inaugural Big City Classic at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.

No. 5 PU Men’s Lacrosse Survives at Yale, Now Faces Giant Clash With No. 2 Syracuse

Bill Alden

Bill Tierney didn’t have a good feeling as he watched his Princeton University men’s lacrosse team go through its pregame routine last Saturday at Yale.

“We shot horribly in warm-up so I knew our guys weren’t concentrating like they should,” said Tierney.

The Hall of Fame coach didn’t feel much better after the first quarter as the Tigers trailed 4-3 in their Ivy League opener.

“Credit to Yale, they came out ready to play,” recalled Tierney. “But we weren’t playing very well defensively. We gave up two man-up goals and made a really dumb play on another.”

The Tigers did smarten up on defense after that. “The kids dug in; we stopped making stupid fouls,” said Tierney.

“The offense started taking better care of the ball and Tyler [Fiorito] made some big saves. We just started feeling more comfortable.”

Princeton senior midfielder Rich Sgalardi reached a comfort level on offense, scoring a key goal at the end of the third quarter to give Princeton a 7-6 lead and momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

Sgalardi added a goal and an assist in the fourth quarter as the fifth-ranked Tigers pulled away for an 11-7 win and improved to 7-1 overall.

Tierney credited Sgalardi for being the difference-maker for the Tigers. “Rich won the game for us; he was playing at a different level from anyone else,” said Tierney of Sgalardi, who produced a career-high five points on two goals and three assists, setting a career-best for a second straight game in the wake of his four-point effort in a 13-4 win over Rutgers on March 24.

“He did a good job of dodging. I am proud of how he has come on. Rich realized he could be good; he realized he could be in better shape. Every year we get seniors who come up big after not being stars in their first three years; they realize they have nothing to lose and they go for it.”

In assessing his team’s overall effort in the victory over Yale, Tierney acknowledged that things didn’t go as he had hoped, notwithstanding the final result.

“I told the guys that the sign of a good team is that they can win when they play poorly,” said Tierney, who got two goals apiece from Scott MacKenzie, Jack McBride, Tommy Davis, and Mark Kovler. “So maybe we showed we are a good team.”

The Tigers will need to be a better team next Saturday as they take on second-ranked Syracuse (7-1) in the inaugural Big City Classic at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford. The tripleheader will also feature top-ranked Virginia taking on No. 10 North Carolina and Delaware against No. 7 Hofstra.

“I think we will step up; the guys tend to step up to the opposition,” said Tierney, noting that his team topped Johns Hopkins 14-8 earlier in the season at the Face-Off Classic at M & T Bank Stadium.

“It is really special to be in Giants Stadium for the first game of its kind. It is a reward for the program to play in regular season games like this; it shows that the program is nationally renowned.”

Princeton knows that it is butting heads with maybe the nation’s best known program in defending national champion Syracuse. The high-powered Orange are averaging 14.1 goals a game and are coming off a dramatic 14-13 win at No. 15 Loyola in which they overcame a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter.

“They are so athletic; they come at you from so many angles,” said Tierney, whose club fell 13-6 at Syracuse last season.

“No one throws out a second midfield like they do. The good news is that they can only play 10 at a time. We will try our best to play the way we want. We are not going to slow it down like in the past. We play the same way that we have been playing.”

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