Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 14
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
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LONG TIME COMING: Princeton University men’s lacrosse goalie Tyler Fiorito shows his focus in a recent game. Last Saturday, junior goalie Fiorito made 10 saves to help Princeton edge Brown 5-4 in four overtimes. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Princeton, which improved to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in Ivy League play. The Tigers host top-ranked Syracuse (8-0) this Saturday at Princeton Stadium.

Star Goalie Fiorito Keeps Focus to the End As PU Men’s Lax Edges Brown in 4OTS

Bill Alden

As the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team headed into overtime last Saturday against visiting Brown, Tiger goalie Tyler Fiorito had some special motivation to come through.

A week earlier, the Tigers found themselves in an overtime contest with Yale and a bad-hop shot skipped around Fiorito to seal the deal for the Bulldogs.

“Last weekend we let in a little fluke goal and I definitely had that on my mind,” said junior star Fiorito, who has started every game for Princeton since the beginning of his freshman season.

“It’s a new game, a new week, and my team needs a lot from me just like we need a lot from every person. I felt a responsibility for last week. I wasn’t happy with how I played.”

It took a while but Fiorito ended Saturday very happy as the Tigers pulled out a 5-4 win in the fourth overtime when sophomore midfielder Tucker Shanley found the back of the net in what turned out be the second longest game in program history.

The hard-earned victory improved Princeton to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in Ivy League play, snapping a four-game losing streak for the Tigers.

While Fiorito played a key role in securing the victory with a 10-save effort, he saw the defensive performance as a collective effort.

“Everyone loves playing with each other; everyone was flying around,” said the 6‘2, 200-pound Fiorito, a native of Phoenix, Md. “If you look at the second half, I hardly made a save because every ball was getting knocked down. We were sliding and covering for each other when we slid. The guys played great.”

Fiorito was confident that the Tiger offense would eventually slide one past Brown goalie Matt Chriss and lift a great weight off of Princeton’s shoulders.

“Our offense has been working hard all week; we knew that when we needed them they would deliver,” added Fiorito.

“It took a little longer than we hoped today, four overtimes, but they were there and they put the ball away. It was nice to get our first victory in three weeks.”

It was nice for reserve Shanley to notch the game-winner. “I have been playing hard in practice,” said Shanley who scored two goals on the afternoon after having notched just one tally in the Tigers’ first six games. “I got a shot to play and I made the most of it today.”

Shanley made the most of his opportunity in the fourth overtime. “Tom [Schreiber] went down the alley; I am flashing through and Chris McBride is coming up top,” recalled Shanley, a 6’3, 195-pound native of Fairfield, Conn.

“Obviously Chris got more attention than me. He drew two guys and I am just sitting there open on the crease.”

In getting the win, the Tigers drew on all their resources. “Everybody was digging deep,” said Shanley. “Tyler made some big saves and the defense made some huge stops to get the ball to the offense.”

Princeton head coach Chris Bates wasn’t surprised that his team dug deep. “We believe in this team’s spirit; they are frustrated because there are such high expectations here,” said Bates, whose team has been hit hard by injuries and learned earlier in the week that senior star Jack McBride would be sidelined for the rest of the season due to a groin injury.

“At the end of the day, everything was in front of us. I told anybody who would listen all week that this team would fight. We challenged them to be upset, we challenged them to be more urgent and they had a good week. All that stuff contributes to getting that bounce of a ball and a goal in the fourth overtime to win it. It’s a summary of everybody keeping on the same page.”

The Tiger defense was on the same page Saturday, holding the Bears scoreless for a 33:07 span from the first quarter into the second half and the last 20:25 of the contest.

“I give those guys credit because they stayed poised where in weeks past there was a play or two that happened,” said Bates. “This week we played as a unit and that’s what we have been preaching.”

Bates credited Fiorito with leading the defensive unit. “We have so much faith in him; he’s got so much poise and so much confidence,” said Bates of his star netminder who has a 7.33 goals against average so far this season.

“We preached all week to him to stay focused in the third and fourth quarters. We didn’t anticipate four overtimes. He knows what it takes and I think we all realized the magnitude of this game.”

Bates didn’t anticipate the game-winner coming from the little-used Shanley, who had been demoted from the second midfield earlier in the season.

“I am proud of him,” said Bates, who also got goals from Schreiber, Chris McBride, and Jeff Froccaro in the win as the Tigers rallied from an early 2-0 deficit and then built a 4-2 lead in the third quarter only to give up two unanswered goals as Brown forced overtime. “He has worked hard and stuck with it; he got the reward today.”

The struggling Tigers needed a reward collectively as they look forward to hosting top-ranked Syracuse (8-0) this Saturday at Princeton Stadium.

“It gets us in the Ivy race; it gets us out of a funk,” said Bates. “It gives this team a little belief; a little bit of the black cloud goes away. We don’t celebrate very long because we have the No. 1 team in the country coming in. I told the fellas to root for Syracuse because we want the No. 1 team in the country to come in here and we want to beat them.”

In Fiorito’s view, the victory gives the Tigers a jolt of confidence heading into the clash with the high-powered Orange.

“It is great to leave the locker room smiling; everyone is feeling great about themselves and we have high expectations for the rest of the season,” said Fiorito.

“I think we went in that little slide early. Going into Syracuse, we can definitely play with them. We proved that against Johns Hopkins (an 8-3 win on March 5). We can play with anybody; we just have to get rolling again.”

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