May 2, 2018

Goalie Blaisdell Savors Win Over Cornell In Finale But PU Men’s Lax Falls Short of Making Ivy Tourney

STANDING TALL: Princeton University men’s lacrosse goalie Tyler Blaisdell makes a save in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior star Blaisdell enjoyed the big home finale of the Tigers, making 10 saves to help Princeton defeat sixth-ranked Cornell 14-8. The Tigers who just missed making the Ivy League postseason tournament, moved to 8-5 overall and 3-3 Ivy. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tyler Blaisdell helped get the Senior Day festivities underway for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team last Saturday as he was one of the first members of the squad’s Class of 2018 to be introduced.

Smiling broadly, senior goalie Blaisdell strode to the center of the field at Class of 1952 Stadium arm in arm with his parents, greeting his other classmates as they were honored before the Tigers battled No. 6 Cornell.

Blaisdell enjoyed the moment before a sun-splashed crowd of 1,636 on hand.

“It is really cool, you have gotten to see it for a few days before us and now your time finally comes,” said Blaisdell, a 5’9, 185-pound native of Hanover, Mass. “It is a lot to take in, but it was a great day, a beautiful afternoon.”

It ended up being a great afternoon for Blaisdell and the Tigers as they broke open a tight contest with a 5-1 third quarter on the way to a 14-8 win.

While the win improved Princeton to 8-5 overall and 3-3 Ivy League, the day ended on a tough note for the Tigers as they narrowly failed to make the Ivy tournament due to tiebreakers and saw their season come to an end. The top four in the league standings qualify for the event and while Princeton ended in a three-way tie with Brown and Penn for third, losses to the Quakers and Bears left the Tigers on the outside looking in.

“There were a lot of things going on because we wanted to go out with a win,” said Blaisdell. “It was just the guys laying it all out there because our backs were against the wall and if that is what it is, that is what it is.”

Tiger freshman defender George Baughan laid it on the line as he held Cornell star Jeff Teat (87 points on the season) scoreless on the day.

“We put George Baughan on Teat so he locked it down; he has done great all year,” said Blaisdell of Baughan, who was later named the National Player of the Week by the Baltimore Sun, the Ivy League Rookie of the Week, and the US Lacrosse/Warrior National Player of the Week.

“He did a great job of limiting him from getting the ball, so hard work paid off there. Then we threw some things at them that were a little bit different where we were sliding from and things like that so it worked out well. We were able to execute on defense and the offense took care of their end.”

Blaisdell took care of things in the cage, making 10 saves on the day. “They stung a few that I wanted back,” said Blaisdell.

“We knew they liked to pass the ball inside a lot so we were ready to go with that defensively. From my end, it was good to be able to stab a couple and have one last good game on ’52.”

Blaisdell ends his Tigers career with 521 saves, the seventh-highest total in program history.

“It has been a thing I have kept an eye on a little bit; my employer this coming year is Alex Hewit ’08, who was a goalie in the 2000s,” said Blaisdell.

“I think I just snuck by him last game so I will have to throw a jab at him at some point about that. It is an honor and it is just hard work everyday with coach [Matt] Madalon really getting me going. He has been awesome as a goalie coach.”

Princeton head coach Madalon was proud of how his seniors went out in their finale.

“It was great to come out and have have a senior group and get performances by Sam Bonafede, Tyler Blaisdell, Austin Sims, and Riley Thomson,” said Madalon. “It is unfortunate that Danny Winschuh got knocked out of the game early.”

But it was freshman Baughan who emerged as the star of the day in knocking Teat off stride.

“George is a super athlete; we think a lot of him,” said Madalon. “It was a really tall task to ask of him; he did a really nice job. When Teat did beat him, George as able to make a really savvy, aggressive play.  Another time Teat beat him and we were able to slide to it so it was a real good team effort.”

Princeton got another another really good effort from Blaisdell as he made his 37th straight start.

“We told him we were going to give up some shots, which means one thing – saves,” said Madalon.

“So it was sit in there, settle in. On one of the first two goals, Connor Fletcher (a former Princeton Day School standout) beat him high. We were a little upset about that because we were sitting on that; it is a shot we want to give up and unfortunately we didn’t make the play. Then Ty settled in and made a couple down the stretch.”

On attack, the Tigers buried their shots with Michael Sowers, Connor McCarthy, Philip Robertson, and Thompson each scoring two goals.

“We knew it had to be a complementary lacrosse game in order to sit in there with long possessions,” said Madalon. “We manufactured a couple of timers on, which is OK for us because we are slick and savvy enough to execute in short time. It was just a really good job by coach [Pat] March and a good job by Michael Sowers quarterbacking it down there, really understanding the time and tempo.”

While the Tigers won’t get to play again this season, Madalon likes the way his team got better and better as the spring went on.

“We have won five in a row; we are really understanding who we are,” said Madalon. “It takes time to get pieces in the right spots; it is unfortunate that your fate is not in our control. It was a good run with these guys.”

Blaisdell, for his part, is leaving with great memories of his run with the Tigers.

“It is crazy that it is wrapping up here; it has been awesome,” said Blaisdell.

“It has been a great group of guys. It is more than you can ask for. There have been so many moments and so many great wins, especially here on Class of 52. These are the ones we will remember.”