April 24, 2019

Sowers Ties Career Scoring Mark for PU Men’s Lax: Tigers Top Harvard, Stay Alive for Ivy Playoff Spot

LEAPING INTO HISTORY: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Michael Sowers leaps into a shot in a recent game. Last Saturday, junior attackman Sowers tallied three goals and seven assists in Princeton’s 19-15 win over Harvard, tying Kevin Lowe for the program record for points with 247 in the process. The Tigers, now 7-6 overall and 2-3 Ivy League, play at Cornell on April 27, needing a win to stay alive in their bid to make the league postseason tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Michael Sowers doesn’t dwell on his glittering stats for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team but he does have a deep appreciation for the program’s storied past.

So last Saturday, when junior attacker Sowers tallied three goals and seven assists in Princeton’s 19-15 win over Harvard, tying Kevin Lowe  ’94 for the program record in career points with 247, his thoughts turned to the stars who came before him.

“To be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys is an unbelievable honor,” said Sowers, who needed just 41 games to pile up 98 goals and 149 assists to achieve the record while it took Lowe 60 to hit the mark.

“Those guys are the greatest to ever do it and they will always be the greatest for this program. What they did and those banners behind me, I don’t think that will ever be matched. So it is truly an honor.”

True to character, Sowers spread the credit for his achievement. “A lot of it is attributed to coach Mads [PU head coach Matt Matt Madalon] and coach [Pat] March; it is just a growth mindset I approach coming into every year,” said the 5’9, 175-pound Sowers, a native of Dresher, Pa. who how has 82 points this spring on 30 goals and 52 assists.

“It is what can I do to get better; what can I do to help the team. That starts from the top with coach Mads; at the end of very year we sit down and talk about what I can do individually to get better.”

Sowers noted that having teammates like Chris Brown (5 goals against Harvard), Emmet Cordrey (2 goals, 3 assists), Alex Vardaro (1 goal), Charlie Durbin (3 goals) and Phillip Robertson helps him pile up the assist totals.

“You saw it today,” said Sowers, who was later named the Ivy Co-Player of the Week. “Brownie [Chris Brown] is stepping in. Emmet, Vardaro, Robertson, and Durbin all played well. It really makes my job easy.”

The Tigers did a good overall as the program held its annual Senior Day celebration and improved to 7-6 overall and 2-3 Ivy League by virtue of the win over the Crimson. In so doing, Princeton, which has posted four straight victories, kept its hopes alive of giving the seniors a shot at playing in the Ivy postseason tournament as it heads into the regular season finale at No. 9 Cornell (9-4 overall, 3-2 Ivy) on April 27. The Tigers can place in the top four in the standings and qualify for the Ivy postseason tournament by beating Cornell as long as Brown (5-8 overall, 2-3 Ivy) loses to Dartmouth (2-10 overall, 0-5 Ivy). Should Brown beat Dartmouth, Princeton would need to beat Cornell by at least three goals to make the tourney based on Ivy tiebreaker rules as the three teams would all be 3-3 in league play.

“They are all great guys, they are an awesome group,” said Sower of the team’s Class of 2019 which includes Charlie Tarry, Mike Morean, Aran Roberts, Dawson McKenzie, co-captain Strib Walker, and Alexander Fish in addition to Cordrey and Durbin.

“Being a junior captain, I will always look up to them. It will always be their team. I think us turning around at 3-6; it could have gone one or two ways and a lot of that is attributed to the senior class. If you saw the way we practice, energy doesn’t change from day one to Monday. They are the reason for that; we are really lucky to have a group like that.”

Sowers acknowledged that the Tigers needed to expend a lot of energy to hold off a determined Harvard squad.

“They are a really well coached team,” said Sowers. “They always play hard, we always play each other tough so we were expecting a hard fought game. It just happened to be a track meet.”

Princeton displayed the firepower to run past the Crimson. “We had a great game plan going in; coach March always does a great job of setting our game plan and it is weather we execute it or not,” said Sowers.

“Today, we were fortunate enough to execute the game plan he laid out so we were excited about that.”

Princeton head coach Matt Madalon was excited by his squad’s execution at the offensive end.

“We were humming, we were doing a really nice job and being really smart about how we were taking on that defense,” said Madalon.“We were able to hit some shots. That is a well coached team and we were able to squeak some by them early.”

Madalon credited Sowers with being the catalyst.“He does a really nice job of letting it unfold; you rarely see him press,” said Madalon.

“Occasionally he does force things but today, he really let it come to him and took advantage of the matchups. We were able to get his hands free and he was able to make some plays. He really did a nice job.”

Reflecting on Sowers’ historic offensive production,  Madalon is taken back by how much his junior star has already accomplished.

“Tying the record is incredible, it is just so impressive,” added Madalon. “We feature him in our offense so he is the benefactor of that but that guy makes plays. He is pretty fun to watch.”

It was fun for Madalon to see the program’s seniors enjoy a winning home finale.

“It is hard every time when you have to say goodbye to seniors, it is not goodbye yet which is a great thing,” said Madalon.

“We put a lot on our seniors, we start every single year saying we will go as far as our senior class takes us. It was great to see guys like Mike Morean and Emmet really step up  and have great days. A lot of those guys played really well, like Charlie Tarry and Aran Roberts.”

Madalon acknowledged that the Tigers need to step up their defensive game.

“We wished we would have clamped down defensively earlier,” said Madalon.

“It wasn’t a matter of 6-on-6 defense, there were a lot of broken plays and in those broken plays, there were some undisciplined moments of some loose ball pushes. There were some opportunities to get out of those and really open the gap. We didn’t play well enough to do that; that was the disconcerting part for us.”

In Madalon’s view, Princeton will be primed to seize the opportunity when it plays at Cornell this Saturday.

“We got a lot of work to do, we are happy to come out with a win in Senior Day on Class of 52 for those guys,” said Madalon.

“We are going to keep getting better. It is an incredible rivalry with Cornell and we will be looking forward to making a trip up there. We are going to have a heck of a week to prepare. We are going to throw everything at them.”

Sowers, for his part, is confident that Princeton will give everything it has in the contest.

“They are a great team, they have great players, and they are really well coached,” said Sowers.

“It is similar to this game, we always play each other tough. We won’t be thinking that we have got to beat them by three; we just want to go out and win. We just want to put our best foot forward each and every week.”