Building on Solid Debut for PU Men’s Lax, Song Competed for China at World Tourney
HIT SONG: Andrew Song heads up the field this past spring in his freshman season for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. After earning honorable mention All-Ivy League recognition at longstick midfielder in his debut campaign, Song competed for China this summer at the FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) World Championships in Netanya, Israel. (Photo by Brian McWalters, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)
By Bill Alden
Andrew Song proved that he could excel on the big stage as the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team battled University of Virginia this past February.
In the second game of his college career, Tiger freshman longstick midfielder Song contributed one goal, three ground balls, two caused turnovers and two face-off wins to go along with some spirited defense against a high-powered Cavalier attack in an 18-15 loss.
“That was a really fun game, I just wanted to do all that I could to help the team,” said Song, a 5’10, 185-pound native of Canton, Mass. “I didn’t think about my stats.”
Song kept helping the Tigers more and more as the season progressed, earning honorable mention All-Ivy League recognition, finishing second on the team with 14 caused turnovers and 48 ground balls.
“In the beginning you feel like you are a freshman, you are always trying to prove and validate yourself,” said Song, reflecting on his progress this spring, which helped the Tigers end the season with a five-game winning streak as they went 8-5. “Once you settle into a role and get a feel for the game, you feel like ‘I can do this.’”
This summer, Song took a key role on a bigger stage, starring for the Chinese National Team at the FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) World Championships in Netanya, Israel.
After making an appearance for China’s U-19 squad last fall, Song tried out for the senior team and was selected as one of its non-passport players, having grown up in the U.S. after his parents moved here from China.
Song’s exposure to both cultures helped him keep the Chines team on the same page, no matter who was on the field.
“I will look around and if I see six guys who mostly speak Chinese, I will be speaking Chinese and there will be times when there are guys who mostly understand English,” said Song, noting that the squad included players born in China who came to the U.S. to play in prep school or college and Chinese natives who came through the country’s sports university system.
“I prefer to use Chinese in general. Most people are fluent in Chinese; it is almost better that way so they have a quick reaction.”
Before heading to Israel, Song and his teammates got the chance to bond and promote the game.
“We spent 10 days in China in three different cities; that was to practice and grow as a team but also another goal was to the grow the game and showcase,” said Song.
“We went to different places and we played in a lot of venues because a lot of people in China don’t know what lacrosse is about.”
Upon arriving at the competition, Song enjoyed the feel around the venue.
“The field at Wingate, which is where most of the games were played, had a player center that had a lot of food and trading going on,” recalled Song.
“There were always people there watching your games; the fields were very close to each other. It had the feel of a summer lacrosse tournament but more upscale in an international way.”
Although China ended up placing 42nd of 46 teams in the competition going 2-5 overall, Song credited the squad with developing a closeness as it went through the ups and downs of the tournament.
“I am proud of all the guys on our team; we came from a lot of different backgrounds and experiences and in the end, everybody just pulled together,” said Song.
“No matter what, I don’t think anybody on our team really gave up, which I would take as highly positive. Even though there were a lot of times when people could have checked out, nobody really did and I was really proud of that.”
Song honed his defensive and leadership skills in Israel. “I would usually just cover the other team’s best guy, wherever he was,” said Song, who tallied two goals and two assists with 37 ground balls in the competition.
“I played a lot of longstick; I played close defense. I grew the most in the regard of trying to keep the team together and keeping everybody motivated. I was one of the few guys that understood both languages. I was trying to set an example of getting out there and playing with no fear and hopefully the team would follow.”
Playing foes from around the globe was a highlight of the experience for Song.
“The level of respect after the games between teams was pretty unique because we always shook hands and gave each other little gifts and souvenirs,” said Song. “We would take a team photo together. It shows how many people across the whole world really care about lacrosse. It was unique to see that.”
In Song’s view, his exposure to the international game has sharpened his focus as he heads into his sophomore year at Princeton.
“I just want to work as hard as I can; I am continuing to work on my game, both athletically and mentally,” said Song.
“I think the mental aspect of it is what makes lacrosse so unique, I am just continuing to understand the game better. As a team, we want to continue where we left off. We had a slow start but then we beat some really good teams toward the end. It left a bitter taste in our mouth that we weren’t playing some more.”