Fueled by Brown’s Impressive Debut, PU Men’s Lax Edges Monmouth in 2 OT
MEMORABLE DEBUT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Chris Brown heads upfield last Saturday as Princeton hosted Monmouth in the season opener. Freshman attackman Brown made a superb college debut, contributing two goals and three assists as Princeton pulled out a 9-8 win in double overtime. The 18th-ranked Tigers play at No. 6 Virginia (2-0) on February 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
In the early stages of his debut for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team, Chris Brown struggled to get in a rhythm.
Freshman attackman Brown and and the Princeton offense couldn’t find the back of the net as the Tigers and visiting Monmouth were knotted in a scoreless stalemate late in the first quarter last Saturday in the season opener for both squads.
“We had our shots and the goalie, give him credit, made some great saves in the beginning,” said Brown.
In the second quarter, Brown found the range, tallying a goal and two assists as Princeton jumped out to a 5-1 halftime lead.
“Once you start sweating and getting your legs underneath you it goes back to normal, playing lacrosse,” said Brown, a 6’2, 200-pound native of Fairfield, Conn.
“Any time you start producing and the offense starts clicking it works out. I was starting to get into the game and flowing.”
As the game unfolded, Brown kept producing, ending up with two goals and three assists as Princeton pulled out a 9-8 win in double overtime against the Hawks.
Brown scored the final goal in regulation for Princeton as the Tigers forged ahead 8-7.
“He was going for the ball quick,” said Brown, referring to the Monmouth defender.
“You just try to take your shots when you can, and luckily that one stuck. That worked out really well.”
Things ended up working out well for the Tigers as senior star Riley Thompson converted a feed by sophomore standout Michael Sowers in double overtime to give the Tigers a hard-earned 9-8 victory.
“I was never really worried about the score but give them credit, we were up by a couple and they battled back,” said Brown.
“They are a good team but we ended up getting the win, which is huge for us. I couldn’t ask for a more exciting start to my college career with a double overtime win.”
Brown is excited about the chance to play on the same line with All-American Sowers, who tallied a goal and three assists in the win.
“He makes your job so much easier for you, if you get the slightest bit open he is going to find you and even if you are not, he will make you open at times,” said Brown. “I have learned so much about the game of lacrosse, playing every single day with all of this talent.”
Princeton head coach Matt Madalon credits Brown with giving the Tigers an infusion of talent on attack.
“Chris a big time player, he does it everyday in practice without hesitation,” said Madalon. “He did a nice job.”
The Tigers, though, didn’t do a good job of building on a 7-2 third quarter lead as the Hawks scored five unanswered goals to make it a 7-7 contest midway through the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well and they did a great job; they are a very, very well coached program,” said Madalon.
“They chip away at it. We fouled, we made too many mistakes, we gave them to many opportunities to get back in the game. We left the door wide open. We turned the ball over on unforced errors on offense. We didn’t play our best today. I am happy that we can learn from a win.”
Madalon was not surprised to see senior star and co-captain Thompson tally the game winner even though he had been held scoreless to that point.
“If there was anyone who was going to get that goal, it was probably 24 just because he does every little thing properly,” said Madalon.
“He never takes a play off, he cuts when he is supposed to cut, he picks when he is supposed to pick. I am really happy for him.”
The play of senior goalie Tyler Blaisdell, who had 13 saves in the first half and mad some crucial stops down the stretch, also made Madalon happy.
“Any time you are at 17 saves that is a good game,” said Madalon of Blaisdell, who was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week for his performance. “It was good for him to start the season that way.”
The defensive unit started well, holding the fort under a barrage as the Hawks totaled 57 shots on the afternoon.
“Those guys did a really good job,” said Madalon, citing the efforts of Aran Roberts, Arman Medghalchi, and Danny Winschuh. “You have to give credit to them as a whole. Any time you win an overtime game, especially a double OT game, everyone did just enough.”
Princeton will need to do more this Saturday to pull out another win as the 18th-ranked Tigers play at No. 6 Virginia (2-0).
“It is still so early for us; our goal is always a national championship,” said Madalon.
“There are many ways to get there and the easiest one is through the Ivy League in terms of an automatic qualifier. We have a lot to learn and hopefully we are on the upward trajectory.”
Brown, for his part, believes the Tigers will find a way against the Cavaliers.
“They are a top tier program in the country and they have been doing well,” said Brown.
“You try to take one game at a time so we are going to prepare for them; it is going to be a huge test for us.”