Vol. LXI, No. 15
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)ON TARGET: Princeton University men's lacrosse senior star Peter Trombino prepares to shoot in Princeton's 12-8 win over Syracuse last Saturday. Trombino was on target against the Orangemen as he fired in a career-high five goals to help spark the Tigers to victory.
The coaching staff on the Princeton University men's lacrosse team has challenged senior attacker Peter Trombino to shoot early and often this season.
While Trombino had a team-high 14 goals coming into Princeton's clash last Saturday with visiting Syracuse, there was a sense that the Huntington Station, N.Y. native hadn't really gotten into a groove yet.
After all, with Trombino as the top triggerman, the Tiger offense had been held to six goals or less on four occasions this spring even as fifth-ranked Princeton got off to a 5-2 start.
Inspired by the challenge presented by perennial national power Syracuse, Trombino was on target last Saturday like never before as he fired in a career-high five goals to help lead the Tigers to a satisfying 12-8 victory before a crowd of 5,874 at -Princeton Stadium.
Sophomore star Mark Kovler also had a big day as he notched a career-high four goals with Tommy Davis adding two and Josh Lesko chipping in one.
In assessing his career day, Trombino maintained that Princeton didn't do anything fancy to break loose. "We played well, we got up for this game," said Trombino, who also chipped in two assists on the day for a career single-game high of seven points and now has 19 goals and four assists on the season.
"We worked all week on dodging hard. It really wasn't anything they did, it was about us. We moved the ball well and for the first time this season we shot really well. It feels great."
Trombino did most of his damage up top, well outside the crease area. "It's kind of where I moved to this year in our offense," added Trombino, who is the only player in program history to have 20 goals and 10 assists in each of his first three seasons. "I shot a lot in practice, they were just falling today."
Syracuse head coach John Desko was impressed by how the Princeton offense got their shots falling. "We expected their defense, we expected their goalie," said Desko, whose team fell to an uncharacteristic 3-5 with the loss and dropped to No. 17 in the national poll.
"Their offense was trying to get back on track and score more goals and they did it. We knew that Trombino was capable but we didn't expect him to get that many. He's such a smart player; he got himself in the right spot. We made mistakes and he really took advantage of it."
Princeton head coach Bill Tierney was relieved to see Trombino and Kovler finally meet his high expectations for them. "I mean this with love, but it's about time," asserted Tierney. "We can't win without Peter and Mark. Today they shot it really well; they put their shots in. We know they can do that but they hadn't until this point. I just hope it continues."
While Trombino and Kovler drew attention for their shooting exploits, Tierney pointed to senior midfielder Scott Sowanick as the unsung hero behind the offensive display.
"What makes the engine run is No. 5 (Sowanick), he's the guy that gets the thing kicking at a higher speed," said Tierney. "Sowanick is the guy who takes on the pole all the time. He creates things. He's taken a new role, he only has four goals but he makes the engine run."
Tierney acknowledged, however, that the Tiger offense seemed to be stuck in neutral after its sloppy display in a 5-3 win over Yale on March 31.
"The bus ride home from New Haven last week was not a pleasant one for me," recalled Tierney, whose team will be in the thick of the Ivy League portion of its schedule as it was slated to play at Penn on April 10 before hosting Harvard on April 14.
"We were looking up at a big mountain, we hadn't beaten Syracuse in the regular season here since 1947. We really felt like this was a do-or-die situation for us."
In the wake of that subpar effort, Tierney turned up the heat on his club. "We worked hard this week, it wasn't a pleasant week in practice," said Tierney. "I give the guys a lot of credit for fighting through my tantrums. They came out today and played with some confidence and did what we asked them to do."
Princeton was sharp in the first half as it jumped out to a 4-0 lead and led 5-2 at halftime. The Tigers built their lead to 9-4 but had to fight through some anxious moments as the Orangemen scored three straight to narrow the gap to 9-7 with 8:14 remaining in the game.
The Tigers answered with two goals by Davis and one by Trombino as they regained control of the contest, displaying a resolve that impressed their coach.
"I thought the most telling point of today's game was the inevitable comeback [by Syracuse]; you knew it was going to happen," said Tierney. "We got a couple of big goals there to kind of say we're not going to quit; we're not going to die on this thing."
Trombino, for his part, believes the win was a key breakthrough for the Tigers. "We haven't had one of these big wins in a few years," said Trombino. "Just getting it is big; it doesn't matter what their record is, beating Syracuse is always a great win for us."
And if Trombino can keep on target, the Tigers should pick up a few more great wins along the way.
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