Vol. LXI, No. 19
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)NATIVE SON: Princeton University senior midfielder Whitney Hayes heads up the field in recent action. Hayes, a Princeton native and former Princeton High star, is looking to make the most out of his final games with the Tigers. Hayes has scored four goals in the last five games for Princeton (10-3 overall, 5-1 Ivy), which plays at sixth-seeded Georgetown (11-2) this Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of that game will take on the victor of the clash between third-seeded Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame in the quarterfinals at Princeton Stadium on May 19.
As a kid growing up on Hodge Road in Princeton Borough, Whitney Hayes often dreamed of stepping on the field across town for the Princeton University men's lacrosse team.
"I remember all those national championship teams," said Hayes. "I would play around in the backyard pretending to be on the field for one of those national championships."
After a record-breaking lacrosse career at Princeton High and a post-graduate year at Phillips Academy, Hayes achieved that dream as he joined the Tigers in the 2004 season and scored 26 points in helping Princeton get to the NCAA Final Four.
Last Saturday, the senior midfielder lived through another part of his dream as he played his final regular season game for Princeton.
It was a day of mixed emotions for Hayes as Princeton edged Brown 8-7 before a crowd of 2,572 at Class of 1952 Stadium to cement a spot in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
"It's definitely bittersweet," said the 5'11, 175-pound Hayes, who fired six shots on the day but couldn't find the back of the Brown goals. "I've had so much fun here; it's hard to leave and think that it's the end. Hopefully we'll have four more games to go."
Princeton's path to making Hayes' ultimate dream come true will start this Sunday when the Tigers (10-3 overall, 5-1 Ivy) play at sixth-seeded Georgetown (11-2) in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The winner of that game will take on the victor of the clash between third-seeded Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame in the quarterfinals at Princeton Stadium on May 19. The Final Four will take place Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore.
Hayes knows that Princeton will have to play better than they did against Brown if the Tigers are to make a big run in the tournament.
"Brown threw us out of our game a little bit; their goalie played spectacularly, he made a ton of saves," said Hayes. "We just weren't clicking like we'd like to be. We'd play well for five minutes and then not play well for five minutes."
With Princeton having advanced to ten Final Fours and won six national titles since 1992, Hayes is confident the team can raise its game come tournament time.
"I'm confident we can step it up," said Hayes. "We play our best against the good teams. Our best games this year have been in the losses [to Virginia, Johns Hopkins, and Cornell] with the exception of the win over Dartmouth."
As he heads down the stretch of his Princeton career, Hayes has stepped up his game, scoring four goals in the last five games after notching one in Princeton's eight games.
"I'm just getting into the flow of things," said Hayes, who now has 65 points in his Princeton career on 31 goals and 34 assists. "The thing about our offense is that we have so many guys that are about the same so any different guy can step up on a given day."
Hayes is savoring every moment he is spending with the guys this spring. "This is supposed to be fun," said Hayes, who will be working for Lehman Brothers in New York City after graduation.
"When you are out in the working world you are going to miss this time; you'd kill to spend three hours running around in the sun with 50 of your best friends."
For Hayes, a special bonus has been getting to play at Princeton with his older brother Dixon, a 2004 PU alum, and younger brother Sam, currently a freshman attacker for the Tigers.
"Dixon and I have always been closer but I feel like Sam and I have not just been brothers but have become friends," said Hayes. "That's something I really value. He's such a good kid; he fits in so well."
In Hayes' view, the team's collective chemistry sets it apart. "We have guys who really care about each other; there's just such great character among the guys," said Hayes.
"Everybody is really good friends with each other. I don't think you can find one kid on the team that people don't like; there are no rivalries."
Princeton head coach Bill Tierney wasn't happy about how his team performed against Brown as it won its 14th straight game in the rivalry.
"We're up 3-1 and everything is going good," said Tierney, who got three goals from Peter Trombino and two from Mark Kovler in the win.
"We take a shot when we have three on the field and they have six. They get the ball and score. They get a penalty and suddenly the game is 3-3 now, instead of us being in control. When you get like that, the other team gets the feeling they are in it. Their goalie played fantastic as did Al [Alex Hewit]."
Tierney acknowledged that his team is not looking so fantastic as it heads into the NCAAs.
"Going into the playoffs you have to be on the move, playing with momentum," said Tierney, whose team has won nine of its last 10 games.
"This sets us back a step but we've been here before. We had games against Hofstra, Yale, and others where we didn't play particularly well and did OK; we have good kids. They will rebound; they work hard."
Princeton will need to work hard if it is to overcome Georgetown. "It's going to be a tough go," said Tierney, referring to opening the tournament with a road contest. "It doesn't take much motivation going into a playoff game. They will certainly be of a serious mind as they would be anyway. I know they'll be motivated."
Tierney believes that Hayes and his senior classmates will have a special motivation as they play in their last NCAA tourney. "They started out as freshmen being in the Final Four," recalled Tierney.
"They had a rough 5-7 season. They have been really instrumental in helping us get the program back where it should be as a tournament program and hopefully a Final Four program."
Hayes, for his part, feels that the NCAA experience should come in handy as the PU seniors look to end their careers in a blaze of glory.
"We had a trial by fire freshman year," said Hayes. "We had seven guys play in the Final Four. We have other guys who have played great this year for us. Everybody in the class makes a contribution."
And Hayes has made a solid contribution to the program as he has lived out his childhood dream.
Town Topics® may be purchased on Wednesday mornings at the following locations: Princeton McCaffreys, Coxs, Kiosk (Palmer Square), Krauszers (State Road), Olives, Speedy Mart (State Road), Wawa (University Place); Hopewell Village Express; Rocky Hill Wawa (Route 518); Pennington Pennington Market.
Copyright© Town Topics®, Inc. 2011.