Vol. LXIV, No. 10
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
YOUNG GUN: Princeton University mens lacrosse freshman star Jeff Froccaro flings the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Froccaro scored a game-high four goals as Princeton edged Johns Hopkins 11-10 in overtime at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic in Baltimore. The fifth-ranked Tigers were slated to play at Manhattan on March 9 before hosting No. 19 Maryland-Baltimore County on March 13 and then playing at No. 3 North Carolina on March 16.
It was a situation that mightve overwhelmed many a lacrosse team.
Featuring a line-up dotted with new faces and playing in its second game under a new head coach, the Princeton University mens lacrosse team faced undefeated Johns Hopkins before a hostile crowd of 19,742 in M and T Bank Stadium in Baltimore at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic.
The Tigers, though, showed from the opening face-off that they werent going to be intimidated by the surroundings, matching fifth-ranked Hopkins goal for goal as the first quarter ended in a 4-4 stalemate.
Princeton head coach Chris Bates was heartened by his clubs solid start and the impact it had on Hopkins.
They called a time out five minutes into the game; that was a good sign, said Bates. It showed that we were doing some things that were causing them problems. That gave us confidence.
Princetons confidence increased in the second quarter as it outscored Hopkins 3-0 to take a 7-4 lead into intermission.
We got two quick ones and then there was a lull, said Bates, reflecting on the second quarter. We got one goal late which was good. In a one-goal game, every bit helps.
Things got dicey for the Tigers in the second half as Hopkins rallied from a late two-goal deficit to knot the game at 10-10 and force overtime.
Bates, though, didnt sense any jitters in his troops as he addressed them before the start of overtime.
I told them to just play lacrosse and that I was not going to call a timeout unless we really needed to, recalled Bates. They had a lot of confidence, there was not a lot of coaching needed.
In the extra session, the Tigers produced some good lacrosse, winning the opening face-off and working the ball around for 59 seconds until Scott MacKenzie took a Jack McBride feed and buried it in the back of the net to give the Tigers an 11-10 victory and a 2-0 start.
With MacKenzie having missed all six of his shots in regulation, Bates was thrilled to see his senior midfielder come through in the clutch.
We needed that for Scott, said Bates. The thrust has been to get him to improve his shooting percentage. He is very athletic; gets his hands free and gets a lot of shots. If we are going to be good, he has to make his shots.
Bates likes the way former Princeton High star and junior midfielder Tyler Moni is taking advantage of his shot to play more this season.
I joked with Tyler before the game, saying are you turning into a prime time player, said Bates of Moni, who had two goals in the win and picked up the ground ball on the opening face-off in overtime.
He works so hard. He is in the office watching game film. He has a nice role; he plays well on the wing and creates in transition.
The Tigers have also been getting more creative play from junior attacker Jack McBride.
Jack is starting to see the field better, said Bates, who got three goals and an assist from McBride with freshman Jeff Froccaro scoring four goals and Chris McBride getting a goal and two assists.
He had an off-ball goal; he is rounding out his game. We all know what he can do when he barrels to the goal but he also has good vision on the field.
Freshman attacker Froccaro has shown plenty of game, scoring a total of seven goals in his first two college appearances.
Jeff has no fear; he doesnt back down and he doesnt get rattled, added Bates.
He is a freshman coming off an ACL injury; he is exceeding expectations. He is doing well on face-offs and his goals have come at timely moments. They stop runs for the other teams.
Bates liked the way his team performed collectively at timely moments last Saturday.
Just to go out there in front of a crowd of 20,000 and play Hopkins and to see them react to that and find a way to win was great, said Bates.
You have to be tickled with the way things have gone in the first two games. Wins over Hofstra and Hopkins are big, you put those in your pocket. With all the parity, that will be a big help if we are looking at an at-large bid to the NCAAs.
Princeton is slated to play at Manhattan on March 9 before hosting No. 19 Maryland-Baltimore County on March 13 and then playing at No. 3 North Carolina on March 16.
We need to take care of business, said Bates, whose team has risen to No. 5 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.
It was easy to be excited about the first game because it was the first game and against a team that beat you last year. Then going against Hopkins before that kind of crowd, things were emotional. Now we are the favorites; Ill be interested to see how the group responds. We will need the older guys to lead and keep us from stubbing our toe.
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