Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 34
 
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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SHOT AT REDEMPTION: Ryan Boyle prepares to shoot during his legendary career with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. Boyle, a 2004 PU alum who ended his career as the program’s second all-time scorer with 233 points, added another line to his resume last month as he helped the U.S. edge Canada 12-10 to win the 2010 men’s lacrosse world title in Manchester, England. The victory was especially sweet for Boyle and his teammates since the U.S. had fallen 15-10 to Canada in the 2006 world title game, suffering its first loss in the competition since 1978.

Crediting Special Sense of Unity on U.S. Squad, PU Lax Great Boyle Savors World Championship

Bill Alden

For Ryan Boyle, playing on the U.S. team that fell 15-10 to Canada in the 2006 world championship lacrosse game created a stain on his impeccable resume in the game.

Former Princeton University standout Boyle, 28, who won an NCAA crown with the Tigers in 2001 before winning the 2002 world championship and three Major League Lacrosse (MLL) titles, was not pleased to be on the first U.S. team to lose at the worlds since 1978.

So when Boyle found himself on a U.S. squad that fell 10-9 to Canada last month in pool play at the 2010 world tourney in Manchester, England, it would have been understandable if the attackman had been left distraught by the loss.

Instead, Boyle saw a silver lining to the setback. “We didn’t play well but we barely lost,” said 5’11, 180-pound Boyle, a 2004 Princeton alum who is the program’s second all-time leading scorer with 233 points.

“We didn’t shoot well. After the game, we were saying that we can beat them if we just clean up a couple of things.”

Rolling through the rest of pool play and then routing Japan 20-5 in the semis, Boyle and the Americans earned a title game rematch with their tormentors from the north.

In the early going, the U.S. cleaned up on the Canadians, building an 8-4 lead by halftime.

“We absolutely liked the way things were going,” said Boyle, reflecting on the first half. “We were taking care of the ball much better; we were shooting much better.”

Things got dicey in the second half, however, as Canada reeled off four unanswered goals in the third quarter and took a 10-9 lead with 9:56 remaining in regulation. But fueled by a hunger to regain the title, the U.S. gathered itself and pulled out a 12-10 win.

“We forced some things in the third quarter; we had some sloppy turnovers,” said Boyle, in assessing the U.S. team’s play in the second half.

“Canada is a good team and you know they are going to make a run. We just needed to change the momentum in the fourth quarter and take better care of the ball.”

In pulling out the victory, the U.S. utilized character as well as skill. “We have a lot of tournament winning players on the team,” said Boyle, who was joined on the U.S. squad by former Princeton teammate Matt Striebel.

“We have a lot of All-Americans and guys who know what to do in big games. They are not afraid to take big shots.”

While legendary for his slick passing, Boyle displayed his big-game savvy in the title contest by calling a critical time-out late in the fourth quarter. “There was a scrum and a ground ball came out and I went after it,” said Boyle.

“I got the ball and called a timeout. I know that coach [Mike] Pressler wanted to do that but I felt it was critical for us to keep possession.”

It was critical for the U.S. to avenge their championship defeat to Canada. “I am proud of my teammates; I am proud to have the chance to win the title again,” said Boyle, who had nine points in the tournament on four goals and five assists.

“No one wants to have on their resume that they were on the first U.S. team to lose in 30 years. I was honored and humbled at the same time. It is great to represent your country.”

In Boyle’s view, a special spirit of unity galvanized the U.S. title run. “It came down to team,” asserted Boyle. “We were strategically designed to be a team and not a collection of all-stars. We had a high level of camaraderie; we know each other well.”

With the next world tournament slated for 2014 in Denver, Boyle doesn’t know whether he will be on hand to help the U.S. defend its crown.

“I am not sure; a lot can change in four years,” added Boyle, who missed out on an opportunity to win another championship last weekend as his Boston Cannons fell 13-9 to the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the MLL semis last Saturday.

“I am not sure how my body will feel in three years. We did have some guys on the team this year in their 30s so it can be done. The opportunity to go out on top is tempting. To be on a fourth U.S. team would be a feat. I would like to have a chance at a third world title. I don’t play for individual accomplishments; that’s not why I do this. I do it for the team and the chance to win titles.”

If Boyle could be part of another world champion, it would burnish an already legendary resume.

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