April 22, 2015

Princeton Men’s Lax Cruises Past Dartmouth 16-5, Ending 3-Game Skid, Tying for 1st in Ivy Standings

Having lost three straight games, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team found itself at a crossroads as it played at Dartmouth last Saturday.

“If we had lost another one, it would have been a long ride home and a long week,” said Princeton head coach Chris Bates, whose team had dropped a 16-15 heartbreaker at Lehigh on April 7. “The season wouldn’t have been over but there would have been some doubts.”

Clinging to a 5-3 lead at halftime against the Big Green, Princeton left no doubt as to the outcome of the contests, outscoring Dartmouth 7-1 in the third quarter on the way to a 16-5 victory.

“We took care of business,” said Bates, who got five goals and an assist from senior star Mike MacDonald with senior captain Kip Orban chipping in four goals and sophomores Sean Connors and Gavin McBride scoring two goals apiece.

“We got into a good rhythm and got the ball moving. We are tough to stop when we get into a rhythm and share the ball. We had some assisted goals.”

Princeton also showed some good toughness in pulling away from the Big Green.

“We played really hard, we out ground-balled them,” asserted Bates, whose team had a 30-29 edge in ground balls on the afternoon as it improved to 7-4 overall and 3-1 Ivy League.

“We made the hustle plays, we showed some heart. We played at maximum speed. Bobby Weaver, Austin deButts, and Austin Sims hustled all over the field at shortstick middie.”

Freshman goalie Tyler Blaisdell was up to speed as he made his second straight start in taking over the spot from senior Eric Sanschagrin, recording eight saves on the day.

“Eric is steady, we know what we are going to get from him, we have seen him at his best and at his worst and we have big sample size,” said Bates in reflecting on the in-season switch to Blaisdell.

“We wanted to get a sense of what Tyler was going to be able to do with a full run. We are thinking longer term about what is going to help us.”

In Bates’ view, being able to turn the Dartmouth game into a rout could help his team’s confidence over the long term.

“If we had squeaked out an 11-9 win, it wouldn’t have been the same feeling,” said Bates.

“Everyone got in and some guys got their first goals. We were able to pull away. We got loose and gained some confidence. It was a good bus ride home.”

The 20th-ranked Tigers are hoping to end the spring on a good ride, starting with an April 17 game against visiting Harvard (6-6 overall, 1-3 Ivy) which is being broadcast nationally on ESPNU. Princeton is currently tied with No. 9 Cornell (9-3 overall, 3-1 Ivy) atop the Ivy standings and faces the Big Red on April 25 in a game that could decide who is going to host the 4-team Ivy men’s lacrosse tournament in early May.

“It is important to feel good about yourself at this time of the year,” said Bates.

“If we win on Friday, we will be in a position to host the Ivy tournament. The guys are dreaming a little bigger. Harvard is an easy game to get everyone motivated for; we are setting sights on going 4-1.”

Bates knows it is not going to be easy to get past a skilled Crimson team that edged Cornell 10-9 earlier this month.

“They are loaded with talent,” said Bates of Harvard which boasts plenty of firepower in Devin Dwyer (19 goals, 27 assists), Ian Ardrey (22 goals, 7 assists), Deke Burns (25 goals, 2 assists), and Joe Lang (20 goals, 7 assists).

“They have had a roller-coaster season, they have had injuries on defense. Any team that can beat Cornell, can play. They have a deep and talented offense and getting steady play in goal.”

The Tigers will need to play a steady game in all phases to beat Harvard. “We need to make stops and make saves,” said Bates. “We need to be efficient on the offensive end; when we are efficient we are tough to stop. We got some confidence on defense on Saturday.”