Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 9
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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FOUR WHEELING: Princeton University men’s lacrosse junior attacker Chris McBride heads up the field on his way to a four-goal performance in Princeton’s 17-14 win over Hofstra in the season opener for both teams. The sixth-ranked Tigers head to Baltimore this Saturday to play No. 5 Johns Hopkins (3-0) in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M and T Bank Stadium.

Junior Star McBride Provides Sharpshooting as Tiger Men’s Lax Triumphs in Bates’ Debut

Bill Alden

The eyes of the lacrosse world were on Chris Bates last Saturday as he coached his first game for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team after succeeding the legendary Bill Tierney.

With Tierney’s surprise move to the University of Denver last June having been the the top story in the offseason, the heat was on Bates as the Tigers took the field to host Hofstra in the season opener for both teams.

Princeton junior attacker Chris McBride and his teammates were determined to show the crowd on hand at a chilly Class of ’52 Stadium and the ESPNU television audience that they could prosper under the new leadership.

“We were all very excited to get this thing going; we have been waiting and hearing that we have a new coach day in and day out,” said McBride.

“The coaching staff is amazing, I can’t say enough about them. They put in so much time and hard work. They want it just as much as us.”

Princeton’s good work on offense and desire to win made the difference as they prevailed 17-14 in a topsy-turvy battle before 1,146.

McBride scored a team-high four goals to help trigger the offense as the sixth-ranked Tigers looked comfortable in their new freewheeling offensive scheme.

“I was getting some great picks by Mike Chanenchuk and Peter Smyth,” said McBride, who tied his single game career-high for goals with his effort.

“I was able to get my hands free and fortunately the shots went on goal. I’ll take what I can get. We have been working on transition everyday in practice and I think it really paid off.”

The Tigers had to work hard to overcome a pesky Hofstra team. Princeton jumped out to a 7-3 lead but had to score two goals in the last minute of the second quarter to take a 9-7 lead into halftime.

In the early stages of the third quarter, Princeton fell behind 10-9 before going on a three-goal run to end the quarter up 12-10.

The teams traded goals during the fourth quarter with Hofstra narrowing the gap to 15-14 with 6:24 remaining in regulation. The Tigers scored the final two goals of the game to make the final margin 17-14.

“It was an up and down game,” acknowledged McBride. “Hofstra has some great players and they are good in transition; their kids have amazing sticks. I think we capitalized on some of their turnovers.”

McBride is working hard to capitalize on the chance he is getting to play on the same line as cousin and fellow junior star Jack McBride.

“We started playing with each other in elementary school; it’s definitely awesome to play with him,” said McBride,, who moved to attack from midfield last season to join his cousin’s line.

“Throughout the fall and practice, we have really been working together. We are really getting it going. Hopefully we can still keep it going. I am very excited.”

Bates, for his part, was excited to get a win in his debut. “I said to our guys throughout, I can’t wait to see us in game jerseys and be on the sidelines with you,” said Bates, who was the head coach at Drexel the last decade before coming to Princeton.

“I had chills before the game. It was nice to come away with a victory and get it moving. Coaches have short memories. If you lose it, you are miserable for a week. I am happy to get the monkey off of my back a little bit. But it’s about these guys and I am most happy for the guys. These guys have worked hard. I am pumped up for them.”

Bates was pumped by the performance he got from Chris McBride. “Chris is somebody that we think is a great player,” said Bates, who got three goals from freshman Jeff Froccaro in the win with Jack McBride, Chanenchuk, and former Princeton High star Tyler Moni adding two apiece.

“He plays with a lot of energy, he’s tough to stop. He’s fast and he shoots the ball well. It’s his time now. He’s a junior; we are pushing toward having him in a more prominent role in the offense.”

The Tigers benefitted from giving senior Rob Engelke a major playmaking role in the offense as he responded with a goal and four assists.

“We talk about Rob managing the game for us and making good decisions,” said Bates.

“He had some big assists, those were big goals. He cares so much and he works really hard. He is our quarterback out there; he can settle us down.”

In Bates’ view, the offense looked pretty settled considering that the Tigers are still adapting to his new scheme.

“We have some pretty talented players,” said Bates, whose team will look to keep on the winning track when it plays at No. 5 Johns Hopkins (3-0) this Saturday in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M and T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

“We created some stuff in scramble situations and uneven situations and we’ll take those goals. I thought the half field offense responded with big goals when we needed them.

In McBride’s view, the Tigers are just scratching the surface of what they could do offensively.

“I think last year, our highest goal total was 18 against Albany. Hopefully, we can build off of this. We are still tweaking the offense, there is so much going on. As the season goes on, you will see us change certain things.”

And it looks like change is agreeing with McBride and the Tigers.

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