Vol. LXV, No. 10
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)
LONG RANGE: Princeton University mens lacrosse star Long Ellis heads up the field in action last year. Last Saturday, senior defenseman Ellis helped key a superb defensive effort as Princeton won 8-3 at Johns Hopkins. It was the Blue Jays lowest single-game goal output since a 1966 loss to Army. In upcoming action, No. 7 Princeton, now 1-1, hosts 10th-ranked North Carolina (3-1) this Friday evening at Class of 1952 Stadium.
Many coaches believe a team can make its biggest jump in a season from the season opener to game two.
After falling 11-9 to Hofstra on February 26 in its 2011 debut, the Princeton University mens lacrosse team put its nose to the grindstone last week as it looked to make a major leap heading into its clash at No. 8 Johns Hopkins last Saturday.
We practiced differently this week; there was more scrimmaging and game-like situations, said Princeton head coach Chris Bates.
There was a major emphasis on ground balls. We picked up 16 in the whole game at Hofstra and I told them I wanted them to get 16 in the first quarter against Hopkins. There was also an emphasis on facing off, staying out of the penalty box, and making better decisions on offense.
It didnt take long for the Tigers to show that their work had paid dividends as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Blue Jays after one quarter, building a 12-2 edge in ground balls and making just two turnovers in the first 15 minutes of the contest.
While Princeton had also jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the loss to Hofstra, Bates sensed a different feeling around his team last Saturday.
We took a penalty after we got the lead but we held them this time, said Bates.
I think we learned from last week. We were more mature and poised. We executed better and played tough lacrosse all day long.
Princeton displayed its efficiency and toughness to the final whistle as it pulled away to an 8-3 win over Hopkins before a crowd of 3,936 at storied Homewood Field in Baltimore, Md.
Bates was particularly proud of his teams defensive effort as it held high-powered Johns Hopkins to its lowest single-game goal output since a 1966 loss to Army.
It is a wonderful stat, said Bates, referring to the three-goal number. We played great team defense. The defense rotated and was great on the slides. We were also on point in terms of communication. Our shortstick middies, Connor Reilly, Peter Smyth, Tyler Moni, and Bobby Lucas, did a great job of on-ball defense.
The Tigers also got a superb performance from its last line of defense, junior All-America goalie Tyler Fiorito.
It seemed like he made big saves at key moments, said Bates of Fiorito, who had nine saves on the day.
He didnt have a great warmup but I have enough faith and trust in him to not be worried about that. He was brilliant.
Precocious freshman midfielder Tom Schreiber was brilliant in his second college game, tallying four goals and an assist.
Tom is a prime time kid; this is what he is made for, said Bates. We have gotten to see it since the beginning of preseason; now that the lights are on, everyone is seeing it. He has an extra gear out there when it is game time; he makes people around him better.
Princetons midfield was productive collectively as it accounted for seven goals Saturday. Bates credited senior co-captain Moni, a former Princeton High standout, with leading the charge.
Tyler Moni played as complete a game as we have seen from him, maintained Bates of Moni who opened the scoring with a goal in the first minute of the contest.
He created shots and he played great defense. His stats dont jump out at you but he was outstanding. He really quarterbacked the team.
On attack, Princeton got a lift from the return of senior co-captain Chris McBride, who chipped in two assists in his first game action of the season.
Chris gives you so much energy; the other teams have to account for him, added Bates. He is lightning fast and he is good off the ball. He is not one-dimensional.
The Tigers, now ranked No. 7 nationally, will face a multi-dimensional attack as they host No. 10 North Carolina this Friday evening at Class of 1952 Stadium.
They come at you from all directions, said Bates of the 3-1 Tar Heels who have piled up 45 goals this season featuring such offensive weapons as Nicky Galasso with 16 points on nine goals and seven assists and Billy Bitter with 12 points on seven goals and five assists.
They are a little different from Hofstra and Hopkins; they have a structured offense but a little more freedom.
After rallying from a 7-2 deficit to lose by 12-11 in last years meeting with the Tar Heels, Bates is expecting some fireworks on Friday.
We will try to take what they give us, added Bates. They ripped us early last year and we went to a zone and that slowed them down. I give us a lot of credit for not folding as a team. We came back and really made it a game. It is Friday night lights; it should be a great atmosphere.
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