Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 10
 
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
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NEW CENTURY: Princeton University men’s lacrosse senior star Tommy Davis heads to the crease last Sunday in Princeton’s 15-6 win over visiting Manhattan. Davis scored a career-high five goals in the win as he eclipsed the 100-point mark in his career. He is just the 21st player in program history to reach that milestone

Star Attacker Davis Joins Century Club as No. 3 PU Men’s Lax Whips Manhattan

Bill Alden

Tommy Davis was mired in a bit of an offensive slump as the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team took the field last Sunday to host Manhattan.

Although Princeton brought a 3-0 record into the clash with the Jaspers, senior attacker Davis had been held to a total of two assists in the Tigers’ last two outings.

“I have been struggling getting my shot on net lately,” said Davis, a 5’10, 185-pound native of Levittown, N.Y.

“In the last few games, I was 0 for 6 and 0 for 7 shooting. I was just concentrating on the last step, trying to get the ball on net.”

Davis was certainly on target against Manhattan, firing in a career-high five goals and adding two assists as Princeton pulled away to a 15-6 victory over the Jaspers before a crowd of 1,012 at Class of 1952 Stadium.

Along the way, Davis eclipsed the 100-point career mark, becoming just the 21st player in program history to hit that milestone.

While Davis was proud of his accomplishment, he wasn’t comfortable with the attention focused on him.

“It’s definitely a special milestone,” said Davis, who came into the game with 95 points.

“It can’t be all put on my shoulders, I have played with a lot of great players in my four years here. It is not the central focus of the game, if it comes, it comes. If not, try for next game.”

With Princeton at 4-0 and up to No. 3 in the Inside Lacrosse national poll, the Tigers have been benefitting from a changed focus in their offensive attack.

The Tiger coaching staff has loosened the reins, encouraging the players to be a little more trigger happy than in the past.

“It’s definitely more liberated,” said Davis in reflecting on the Tigers’ new offensive approach.

“In terms of being an offensive player, it’s nice to have a little more freedom to experiment and play your game more instead of being confined as we have in the past. It is definitely an improvement and I think we are handling it well.”

Princeton head coach Bill Tierney likes the way Davis handles himself. “He is everything that we want to be represented by,” maintained Tierney.

“He’s quiet, he’s humble, he’s a leader. He does things the right way. He’s a gentleman. When individual accolades come to a kid like that, there is nothing wrong with that because you know he will put it in the bank and someday he’ll know how important it was. He doesn’t care right now, he just wants to win.”

While Tierney was happy to see his team take care of business against Manhattan, he was even more impressed with Princeton’s 6-5 win over then eighth-ranked UMBC last Friday night.

“I thought the other night was a great gutcheck for us because it was a total opposite of what we have been doing yet we still found a way to win,” said Tierney, whose club has averaged 14.3 goals in its other wins.

“From the goalie to the defense to winning some faceoffs, that’s so different from what we were doing earlier with all the offense. When you show you can win games in a different fashion, you’ve got something going.”

The Hall of Fame coach likes the way his team’s less structured offense is going.

“We are giving them more room to understand that it is OK to miss the goal,” said Tierney, who got a career-high four goals from Rob Engelke in the win over Manhattan with Scott MacKenzie adding two and Mark Kovler, Chris McBride, Chris Larkin and former Princeton High star Tyler Moni adding one each.

“I was always harping on them to hit the goal and they would pull up a lot. Coach [David] Metzbower has done a great job with them. He has simplified the offense yet allowed for more things to happen within the offense. We have gone from a more intricate offense where you had to do specific little things to less of where you can do a lot more with your own skill.”

The offensive fine-tuning was the result of some soul searching on Tierney’s part.

“I felt I lost two games for our team at the end of last year by stressing too much what the other team was,” acknowledged Tierney.

“We got so tight and you combine that with a couple of injuries and we just didn’t do well. So over the summer Coach Metz and I talked about that we can’t do that any more. We have great kids, they are not making mistakes on purpose. Let’s let them understand that we support them and that we have confidence in them.

Tierney is gaining confidence that the 2009 team could turn out to be something special.

“They can be, I see things” said Tierney, whose team plays at No. 11 Hofstra on March 14.

“Certainly the Hopkins game showed we can be. The UMBC game showed something different about us. In these two MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) games, we have played good second halves and got the job done. I think we can be special but I also think we have a long way to go.”

Davis and his teammates are looking to go a long way this spring, determined to add to the tradition of a program that has won six national titles but hasn’t gone to the Final Four since 2004.

“Obviously the Princeton reputation is strong in the lacrosse world,” said Davis. “There is a lot of history here. We personally haven’t had the success that has made this program special. So we are trying to not build on the reputation of those kids, we are trying to build our own respect.”

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