Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 18
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
GREAT SCOTT: Princeton University senior midfielder and co-captain Scott Sowanick races up the field in recent action. Last Saturday, Sowanick fired in two goals and had two assists to help Princeton top Dartmouth 13-6. The win improved No. 6 Princeton to 9-3 overall and 4-1 in Ivy League play.

With Sowanick Focusing on Wins, Not Stats, PU Men's Lax Primed for Big Stretch Drive

Bill Alden

Scott Sowanick hasn't focused that much on individual statistics during his career with the Princeton University men's lacrosse team.

"I'm not a big scorer," said the senior midfielder and co-captain. "I'm like a point guard in a way, I kick it off and get things started. I try to draw slides and ignite the offense to get the ball moving."

The 5'10, 175-pound native of Bethesda, Md. played his role to the hilt last Saturday as he helped trigger Princeton to a 13-6 win over Dartmouth before a crowd of 2,412 at Class of 1952 Stadium.

For good measure, Sowanick had a big day statistically, scoring two goals and adding two assists as the Tigers improved to 9-3 overall and 4-1 in Ivy League play.

Predictably, Sowanick didn't care to dwell on his numbers in assessing the win. "I'm pretty much a big win guy," said Sowanick, who now has 10 goals and 12 assists on the season. "That's my big priority."

Sowanick and his teammates did have a little extra inspiration to keep their priorities straight as members of the 1992 Princeton team, the program's first national champion and the 1997 team, its only undefeated squad, were honored during a halftime ceremony last Saturday.

"Coach Tierney is always saying that we need to have pride in the uniform that's on your chest," said Sowanick. "Those guys built that. The guys in 1992 were the guys that kicked it off and it steamrolled from there. It was an honor to play before those guys."

Princeton didn't play all that well at the start Saturday, missing opportunities as it labored to take a 3-1 lead by the end of the first quarter.

"We were a little bit sloppy," acknowledged Sowanick, who scored his two goals in the second half as Princeton pulled away from the Big Green.

"Dartmouth plays an interesting defense; it's a little different than what we are used to. In the beginning of the game, things weren't necessarily clicking. We were able to reassemble at the half. We drew up some new stuff and we executed perfectly when it all came together."

As he heads down the homestretch of his Princeton career, Sowanick is hoping for a perfect ending. "I'm going to miss this place more than anything, particularly Coach [Bill] Tierney and the program," asserted Sowanick, who now has 117 points in his Princeton career on 58 goals and 59 assists.

"It's been such an amazing experience to get to play here. We're just trying to extend it as long as we can. We want to go on a six-game winning streak."

Head coach Tierney is going to miss Sowanick when he's gone. "Scott has been doing that all year," maintained Tierney. "He's the guy who gets us going. He's not been caring about his points but today he got his points."

Tierney was happy to have his attackers pile up some points as Peter Trombino led the way with three goals and two assists with Tommy Davis and Alex Haynie each scoring two goals.

Trombino's output moved his season totals to 25 goals and 10 assists as he became the first player in program history to have at least 20 goals and 10 assists in each of his four seasons. He was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week for his performance.

"Our whole attack was not good last week [in a 10-6 loss at Cornell], so it was good to see them get their points back," said Tierney.

"I thought we were tentative at first. We were trying to be too fine in the first quarter. We missed some passes and had some good shots where we didn't score. After that, they stepped it up. I thought the beginning of the second half was the key to the game. We scored three in a row and got up 10-3. We knew we were going to win so we got more comfortable."

Tierney was comfortable with how his team played defense in the absence of senior star defender Zach Jungers, who was sidelined due to a kneecap condition.

"I thought Charlie Kolkin coming down to close defense and Tommy Firth moving in to help John Bennett on the pole were both strong," said Tierney, whose team came into the game leading the nation in scoring defense, allowing 5.87 goals a game.

"I thought Charlie would give us more experience down there. he worked hard all week and had a big game. You saw a glimpse of the future with Jeremy Hirsch; he came in there and did a great job."

Princeton, now ranked No. 6 nationally, will have to keep working hard as it hosts Brown (7-6 overall, 1-4 Ivy) this Saturday in its regular season finale.

"Brown is a totally different team than Dartmouth," said Tierney. "They have some good young players and they play a little more upbeat style. They aren't going to quit. You always have to be careful with them and we still have to win to get in [the NCAA tournament]."

Sowanick, for his part, believes the 2007 team has what it takes to follow in the footsteps of the 1992 and 1997 teams that were on hand Saturday.

"The great thing about Princeton lacrosse historically, and it's not about to change, is that we build momentum towards the end of the season," said Sowanick.

"This is our time to shine and we're all excited. This team is undoubtedly the most complete team I've been on here in terms of offense, defense, and faceoffs. We definitely have the full package."

And with an unselfish leader like Sowanick as its catalyst, the Tigers could shine brightest when it counts most.

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