Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 12
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
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TOMMY GUN: Princeton University men’s lacrosse junior star Tommy Davis heads to goal last Saturday in Princeton’s 11-6 win over visiting Hofstra. Davis scored three goals and chipped in two assists in the victory as the 11th-ranked Tigers improved to 2-2 on the season.

Opportunistic Davis Triggers Offense As PU Men’s Lacrosse Tops Hofstra

Bill Alden

Coming into its game last Saturday with visiting Hofstra, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team put a major emphasis getting off to a good start.

In losing to Johns Hopkins and Virginia in its previous two outings, the Tigers dug themselves an early hole in each contest and couldn’t get over the hump against the two powers.

With the sun-splashed crowd crowd of 3,139 having barely settled into Powers Field at Princeton Stadium last Saturday, Princeton junior attacker Tommy Davis took matters into his own hands.

The 5’10, 185-pound Davis scored two goals and added an assist as Princeton jumped out to a 3-1 lead 10 minutes into the contest. In the second half, Davis added a goal and an assist as the Tigers pulled away to a satisfying 11-6 victory over the Pride.

Afterward, Davis said the team’s quick start was a matter of seizing opportunity.

“We thought we needed to set the tempo of the game by getting off to a good start and we were successful at doing that,” said Davis, who has a team-high 14 points on the season for the 2-2 Tigers.

“The shots were open and I was able to capitalize on them when I got the opportunity.”

With last year’s offensive leaders Peter Trombino and Scott Sowanick having graduated, Davis has been looking to assume greater responsibility on the field.

“I’d like to have that role,” said Davis when asked whether he sees himself as the quarterback of the Princeton offense.

“It depends on the matchups but today I was playing behind the net a little more than previously.”

In any event, Davis sees the Tiger offense becoming cohesive. “We’re definitely coming together as a team,” asserted Davis.

“The guys know what’s expected of them individually now and that helps us work well as a team. We’re playing hard; we’re dodging hard; we pass hard and take advantage of the opportunities out there,”

Playing better, though, wasn’t enough as Princeton desperately wanted to get back into the win column. “We definitely needed a win,” added Davis.

“We didn’t play well against Hopkins (a 14-9 loss), we played a lot better against Virginia (a 12-10 loss). Still it wasn’t very comforting to not come out with a win. Today we played a lot better; it’s just good to come out with a win.”

Princeton head coach Bill Tierney liked the way his team pulled away from the Pride.

“I was just saying to the coaching staff that I can’t remember the last time we had a really good, hard-fought victory over a really good team and got away from them a little bit,” said Tierney, whose enjoyment of the win was tempered a bit by the fact that his nephew, Seth Tierney, is the Hofstra head coach.

“It seems like even when we win those good hard-fought games, it’s always by a goal or two and lately we’ve been losing those ones. So it just felt good, more for the kids to just see what they can do.”

Tierney liked seeing what Davis did as he triggered the Tiger offense. “Tommy is opportunistic, he has been working on his shooting a lot but he has been smart,” said Tierney.

“We need him to be a leader; we have [Mark] Kovler out there a lot with him. It’s just more for his athleticism and keeping him on the field. But Tommy really runs the show out there. I thought he really did a good job today; he made a couple mistakes trying to force the ball in the middle at the end there. Overall when a guy plays like that, you’ve got to really enjoy the way he is playing.”

The Princeton defense and goalie Alex Hewit gave Tierney something to enjoy as it gave up only one goal in the second half after yielding five in the first 30 minutes of the game.

“Every goal they scored on us in the first half was something we went over a lot,” explained Tierney.

“Of course when you see the other team do it, it looks a little different than when your scout team does it. I just thought when Al started making a couple of big saves, I’m not sure if we played any better, but the emotional high the kids got from him making those saves made them buckle down and play tougher defense because they knew he was kind of back.”

The 11th-ranked Tigers need their All-American goalie to be at his sharpest as they work through their demanding non-conference schedule.

“When we recruit kids, we say you are going to play Hopkins, you’re going to play Virginia, you’re going to play Syracuse and that’s why they come,” said Tierney, whose team plays at Albany on March 21 before hosting Rutgers on March 25.

“You get in the middle of it and it’s oh my god what are we doing out here. We’ve always said that if we are going to be good in May, you’ve got to play these teams in March. It just makes for a heck of an experience.”

Tierney acknowledged that his team needed to experience victory last Saturday in order to keep the season from going south. “This was a fork in the road today,” said Tierney.

“I don’t like the words you have to win because there is no such thing until the end but it was close to that especially in light of the way we played the last two weeks. I thought today we were patient and opportunistic when the openings happened.”

Davis, for his part, things the win over Hofstra could be a turning point for the Tigers.

“We’ve been gradually building toward this, coming out with a win and the way we played” said Davis. “It was close and we extended the lead a little bit more. We can build on that and turn the corner.”

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