April 18, 2018

With Robertson Developing Into Top Finisher, PU Men’s Lax Routs Dartmouth on Milestone Day

SIX SHOOTER: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Philip Robertson unloads the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore attackman Robertson tallied six goals to help Princeton defeat Dartmouth 24-13. The Tigers, now 6-5 overall and 1-3 Ivy league, play at Harvard on April 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Philip Robertson spent his freshmen season on the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team as an understudy for Gavin McBride.

As attackman McBride tallied a program-record 54 goals last spring in his final campaign, Robertson soaked up as much as he could from the senior star.

“Last year was nice, I was able to get a year under my belt,” said Robertson.  “Gavin McBride was a tremendous player; I tried to watch him and learn from him. This year, I have stepped into that role, I try to follow that.”

Robertson has followed in McBride’s footsteps nicely, emerging as Princeton’s go-to finisher, scoring seven goals in a 17-11 win over Siena on April 10 and then tallying six last Saturday to help the Tigers rout Dartmouth 24-13 for their first Ivy League win of the season.

In the win over Dartmouth, Robertson and the Tigers broke open a game that saw Princeton leading 4-3 after the first quarter, reeling off nine unanswered goals to build a 13-3 halftime lead,

“The offense just started clicking. We just started finding those open areas,” said Robertson, who chipped in a pair of goals during the second quarter outburst. “As a whole offense, we are finding those seams and really doing a great job clicking as a group.”

The offense made a lot of history on what turned out to be a milestone day for the Princeton program. Sophomore star Michael Sowers hit 10 points in a game for the first time in his career with three goals and a career-high seven assists. Senior stars Austin Sims and Riley Thompson tallied seven points apiece as they each hit the 100-point mark in their careers in a game that saw the most combined goals between the teams in Tiger history.

Robertson enjoyed being on the receiving end of two Sowers’ assists on the day.

“It has been so much fun playing with him; His work ethic is second to none,” said Robertson of Sowers. “He is an absolutely fantastic player. His vision is unbelievable and his ability to find people. I just try to find a little opening and I think he is going to hit me when I am open.”

The career achievement of Sims and Thompson also hit home for Robertson.

“They are absolutely great leaders on on our team, seeing them hit their 100th point was absolutely awesome,” said Robertson.

“I was so excited for them that I ran off and congratulated them. They work extremely hard and deserve anything that comes to them, I couldn’t be happier for them. Hopefully they keep rolling from there.”

In the wake of his recent scoring roll, Robertson now leads the Tigers in goals with 29.

“It is really just getting out there and shooting a lot more,” said Robertson, a 5’6, 160-pound native of Salem, Va. who scored just three goals last spring. “I have got guys like Mike Sowers to go out and shoot with.”

Princeton head coach Matt Madalon is happy to see his team get on the right track as it posted its third straight win and improved to 6-5 overall and 1-3 Ivy.

“We tried to get wins under our belt and hopefully get some confidence and shore up our systems a little bit,” said Madalon.

“We did that and that was the biggest thing, getting our systems ready and now start executing at a high level. The guys did a good job.”

In reflecting on the team’s 9-0 second quarter, Madalon attributed it to taking care of the basics.

“We just did a good job at the face-off X and then all of a sudden, we were winning the possession battle and we were able to take off and start playing,” said Madalon. “I think there were 18 assisted goals today, that is an incredible stat. It is very unselfish and just really impressive.”

The play of Sowers, who now has a team-high 72 points and leads the nation in assists with 28, is more than impressive.

“That guy is incredible; he is an awesome player,” said Madalon, “He is so unselfish; he does it all within the framework of our offense. He is never holding the ball and trying to do it himself.”

Having senior stalwarts Sims and Thompson each hit the 100-point mark was awesome for the program.

“It is just a testament to what those guys have done for us through the years,” said Madalon. “They are really consistent guys. They do it everyday on practice and they do it everyday in the games, so we are really happy for them. It is a great milestone; I am sure they are happy, but all they want is postseason play.”

Madalon is happy with the production he is getting out of Robertson.

“Getting 13 goals in two games, that is a pretty impressive stat,” said Madalon. “He is just a really savvy player, he has taken advantage of his opportunity. He is doing a nice job.”

While the offensive heroics were eye-catching, the Princeton defense has quietly been doing a better job. “We are getting better every week there, and that is our goal,” said Madalon.

“We were able to do that in these last couple of week and to do that with a couple of wins and now we are off and rolling with three in a row. It is a nice feeling.”

With Princeton playing at Harvard (7-4 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on April 21 looking to stay alive in the race to finish in the top four in the Ivy standings and earn a berth in the league’s postseason tournament, Madalon hopes his team can keep rolling.

“Our thought is we are going to come back and hopefully have a great practice on Monday,” added Madalon. “We are going to power through and hopefully build. We are going to execute in that first quarter and that will be a direct result of how well we practice throughout the week. We are really looking forward to that and getting back to work with these guys.”

Robertson, for his part, is looking forward to battling the Crimson.

“We are definitely starting to click a little bit as a group and find our footing,” said Robertson.

“We will watch some film of today and see where we made some mistakes and have a good, hard week of practice and then be ready to take on Harvard. We are excited for it.”