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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

CENTURY CLUB: Princeton University senior star Jason Doneger, left, fights for room in Princeton's recent loss to Rutgers. Last weekend, Doneger fired in five goals in Princeton's 12-4 win over Harvard on Saturday and then added four more a day later as the Tigers routed Butler 19-1. Doneger's third goal Sunday gave him 100 for his Princeton career, making him just the eighth player in program history to accomplish that feat.
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Doneger Catches Fire for Princeton Men's Lax As Tigers Head to Cornell Still Alive in Ivy Race

By Bill Alden

Jason Doneger is used to seeing his scoring lead to victories for the Princeton University men's lacrosse team.

In the last two seasons, the attacker amassed a total of 77 goals as Princeton went 22-8, making it to the NCAA Final Four last spring.

As the Tigers struggled out of the gate this spring to a 1-6 start the goals stopped coming for the 6'1, 205-pound Doneger, who had just six during that stretch.

Last weekend with Princeton's NCAA tournament hopes on life support, Doneger came up big in two home contests as he broke loose for five goals against Harvard on Saturday and added four more a day later against Butler.

Not surprisingly, Doneger's outburst helped lead Princeton to a 12-4 win over the Crimson and a 19-1 rout of the Bulldogs.

A relieved Doneger acknowledged that he was thrilled to be back on target as Princeton improved to 3-6 overall and 2-1 in Ivy League play.

"It was really good to get back on the board and score some goals," said Doneger, a second-team All-Ivy pick last season after leading the league with 36 goals.

"I hadn't scored too many goals before yesterday. It's not about my personal accomplishments though I must say that when I'm scoring goals we're winning games."

Doneger attained a significant personal milestone in the win Sunday as he became just the eighth player in program history to hit the 100 goal mark.

"I'm very flattered to be in the company of the guys who came before me here and scored 100 goals," asserted a smiling Doneger. "I didn't know it was coming today. The way that our team played this weekend allowed me to accomplish that feat."

In Doneger's view, the team's big weekend gave the team a much-needed jolt. "The guys are just gaining confidence, that's what this weekend was about," asserted Doneger, a native of Hewlett, N.Y.

"It's flow, the guys believing that they can score goals and break down a goalie early in the game. We were fortunate to score a few early goals today and that helped fuel the fire."

As one of Princeton's tri-captains, Doneger took it upon himself to help the Tigers keep their fire as they fell in a 0-5 hole to start the season.

"It's been a tough road," said Doneger, who is the latest of the line of great attackers who have helped Princeton win 10 straight Ivy League titles and six national crowns since 1992.

"A lot of people doubted us when we were going 0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4, and 0-5. Everyone was saying what was going on. These guys kept working hard. The last thing this team has in it is quit. As a leader, as a captain, as a senior, I wouldn't allow that to happen."

Princeton head coach Bill Tierney saw Doneger's outburst as a major catalyst for his team's big weekend. "Because Jason was struggling, he was feeling like he wasn't being a good leader even though he really was," said Tierney, whose team outshot Butler 64-12 with sophomore Peter Trombino producing a career-day as he scored six points on three goals and three assists.

"You could see it yesterday, when Jason started scoring everybody got on their toes. Everybody else's head went up high and everybody else's confidence got better."

After seeing his club have its first seven games decided by a total of 15 goals, Tierney said about the one-sided wins "We're very happy with how the weekend turned out, it's what this team needed," asserted Tierney.

"I very rarely use the word deserve but I think this team deserved this weekend. The best thing about this group is that they have never gone negative on each other; they never questioned anything we did. So to have a weekend where you win 31-5, it certainly feels good for them."

The Tigers' explosion kept them alive in the Ivy race as they now trail Cornell (7-2 overall, 4-0 Ivy) and Yale (7-2 overall, 3-1 Ivy).

Princeton has its fate in its hands as it travels up to sixth-ranked Cornell this Saturday. If the Tigers win that contest and their remaining games against Dartmouth and Brown, they could finish in a tie for the title. A loss this Saturday would eliminate Princeton from the Ivy race and NCAA consideration.

While Tierney concedes that Cornell presents a formidable challenge, he believes his squad can compete with the Big Red.

"They are great scorers," said Tierney, noting that Cornell beat Syracuse 16-14 last week. "They score goals in bunches. They are very well coached and they're always prepared for you defensively. We're playing pretty well right now so what better time to play them."

Doneger, for his part, believes the time could be right for Princeton to upend the Big Red. "Cornell is a great team," added Doneger, who now has 101 goals in his Princeton career.

"We're just looking to go up there and disrupt their flow. It's not going to be easy. It's one of those games where if we are sharp and we pass and catch and shoot well, we'll maximize our chances of winning."

If Doneger remains on target, that will certainly maximize Princeton's chances of success.

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