Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 14
 
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
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SAVING ACCOUNT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse goalie Tyler Fiorito makes a save in a recent game. Last Saturday, Fiorito made a career-high 17 saves to help Princeton edge Brown. The No. 4 Tigers, now 7-1 overall and 3-0 in Ivy League action, take on third-ranked Syracuse (7-1) this Saturday in the Big City Classic in what will be the first event staged in the new Meadowlands Stadium.

PU Men’s Lax Displays Poise in Edging Brown; No. 4 Tigers Primed for Clash With No. 3 Syracuse

Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team took a 3-2 lead over Brown into halftime last Saturday, Chris Bates felt uneasy.

“Frankly it wasn’t the game we thought it should be; we thought we should be up 5-1 or 6-1,” said Princeton head coach Bates.

“We gave up a cheap goal. We dominated possession but I was a little bit concerned that we were playing at their tempo.”

Bates’ concern deepened when Brown tied the game at 6-6 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I was getting some more gray hairs,” said Bates, whose team had three one-goal wins and a one-goal loss in its six games before last Saturday. Our guys didn’t lose focus; they just kept playing.”

The Tigers played very well down the stretch, reeling off three straight goals as Chris McBride, Paul Barnes, and former Princeton High standout Tyler Moni found the back of the net.

Princeton held on for a 9-7 win before 6,403 at the New England lacrosse Classic in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

In reflecting on the win which improved fourth-ranked Princeton to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in Ivy League play, Bates pointed to junior goalie Tyler Fiorito as the game changer.

“Tyler was the difference; he was steady and calm,” said Bates of his netminder who had a career-high 17 saves on the afternoon including eight in the fourth quarter.

“He is really starting to get in a rhythm. He had a streak there earlier in the season where he wasn’t playing as well as he would like.”

The return of sophomore defenseman Chad Wiedmaier from a knee injury has helped the Tiger defense get into a rhythm collectively.

“It just gives you a sense of confidence; he is one of the best defensemen in the country,” said Bates of Wiedmaier whose first appearance this season came in Princeton’s 7-6 win at Yale on March 27.

“He is not 100 percent but he is getting his wind back. He can cover anyone and he is such a battler. He also gives us depth. He allows us to put in John Cunningham at long-stick midfielder which is his natural position. We are doing a better job defensively; we are starting to jell.”

Bates continues to be impressed by his team’s penchant for winning close battles.

“I inherited a team with a little mojo,” said Bates, who is in his first year as the Tiger head coach, taking over for Hall of Famer Bill Tierney.

“They expect to win; it’s in their Princeton DNA. They show poise and competitiveness at the end of the game. We are 7-1 but we could be 1-7 with all these close games. We are finding a way to win.”

With Princeton taking on No. 3 Syracuse (7-1) at the new Meadowlands Stadium this Saturday in the second Big City Classic, Bates knows his club will need all its poise and competitiveness to pull out a win.

“They just come at you from different directions,” said Bates reflecting on the two-time defending national champion Orange.

“They are well coached; they have great systems. They have a lot of scorers. I think we have to start shooting better. We have been facing off well and we need to be around 50/50 with their potent offense. We can’t be giving them the ball.”

With Princeton already having beaten Johns Hopkins and Brown in NFL stadiums, Bates believes his team will feel at home as it takes part in the first event staged in the complex that will house the Giants and Jets.

“They are expecting 20,000 if the weather holds,” said Bates. “Our players won’t be awed by the surroundings; they have done well in NFL stadiums. There is the mystique of opening the building; our guys get charged up with Syracuse as an opponent.”

While the marquee matchup figures to be a highlight of the season, Bates sees it as another step in the process that he hopes will land the Tigers back at M and T Bank Stadium on Memorial Day weekend for the NCAA Final Four.

“The die hasn’t been completely set,” noted Bates. “The theme this week is that we need to keep improving or we are not going to end up where we want to be.”

And if Princeton ends up playing for a national title, you can be sure Bates will have picked up plenty of more gray hair along the way.

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