Mackesy Sparks Late Rally for PU Men’s Lacrosse But Tigers Lose to Cornell, Now Hoping for NCAA Bid
SEEING RED: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Coulter Mackesy, right, tries to get around a Cornell defender last Saturday. Freshman attackman Mackesy tallied five goals and an assist but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 18-15 to the Big Red. While the loss kept the Tigers from making the Ivy League postseason tournament, Princeton, now 9-4 overall and ranked No. 9 in the Inside Lacrosse media poll, is in good position to earn an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament. The NCAA tournament bracket will be announced on May 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Although the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team trailed Cornell 12-5 at halftime last Saturday, Coulter Mackesy wasn’t fazed.
“It was just do our thing, we have been in this position before in this season,” said freshman attackman Mackesy. “We know that we can just as easy have the half that they had in the first.”
Mackesy acknowledged that the Tigers misfired in the first half.
“We got out to a slow start today, their defense is good,” said Mackesy. “Their No. 77 (Gavin Adler) is a presence, we let him dictate things. We just weren’t being patient enough and we were letting them dictate our passing lanes. Our spacing was kind of off.”
With Mackesy scoring three goals in the third quarter, Princeton outscored the Big Red 8-3 to draw within 15-13 with 15 minutes left in regulation. After the Tigers made it a 15-14 game with 12:23 left, Cornell outscored Princeton 3-1 over the rest of the contest to pull out an 18-15 win.
The loss dropped Princeton to 9-4 overall and 3-3 Ivy League, keeping it from making the Ivy postseason tournament. The Tigers, who are ranked No. 9 in the Inside Lacrosse media poll, are in a good position to earn an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament. The tournament bracket will be announced on May 8.
“We had a ton of momentum going into the fourth,” said Mackesy, who ended up with a career-high five goals and one assist in the defeat. “They had a couple of big turnovers at the end. The chances were there, we just couldn’t capitalize at the end.”
Over the last few weeks of the season, Mackesy has been capitalizing on his opportunities, having tallied 14 goals and three assists in Princeton’s last four games.
“It was just gaining the confidence to know that I could play in these big games,” said Mackesy, a 5’10, 170-pound native of Bronxville, N.Y. who now has 38 points on 24 goals and 14 assists. “Chris Brown and Slush (Alex Slusher) have helped me gain that confidence. I always knew I had it in me. Playing behind them and following in their footsteps has been awesome.”
Princeton head coach Matt Madalon acknowledged that Cornell sized momentum in the first half by building a 29-13 edge in ground balls.
“We just didn’t do a good job,” said Madalon. “We came out of the gates a little slow. We were losing the ground ball battles all over the field. I think that really tilted the field for them.”
At halftime, Madalon’s message centered on hustling to tilt the field back to Princeton.
“Honestly, we have made a living on the ground, all day, every day,” said Madalon. “So it was just break down a little bit, play a little tougher in those moments. It helped us get a couple of four-goal runs.”
While Madalon was proud of that response, it was too little, too late.
“We had great momentum, I thought we responded very well,” said Madalon, who also got five goals and an assist from junior midfielder Sam English. “I thought we ran out of time but you have to handle your business during the 60.”
Madalon is proud of how Mackesy has been handling his business.
“Coulter does a nice job, he is very opportunistic,” said Madalon. “Obviously we are happy with how that young guy competes.”
While Princeton’s Class of 2022 didn’t prevail in its final regular season home game, Madalon credits his seniors with doing a great job of holding things together as the 2020 season was halted due to the global pandemic and the 2021 season was halted due to ongoing COVID concerns.
“The senior group is incredible,” asserted Madalon. “We always talk about resilience, toughness and living their lives the right way. They kept our group together, they kept our group tight, and they kept our group motivated. I am really proud of those guys.”
In the event that the Tigers do get into the NCAA tourney, Madalon believes his squad will be motivated to scrap from the opening whistle to the final gun.
“It is to cherish the full 60 minutes, I think that is really what it comes down to, not that our group doesn’t,” said Madalon. “I think they are very aware of the opportunity but we just let one slip away.”
Mackesy, for his part, vows that the Tigers will not let opportunity slip away in an NCAA matchup.
“This feeling sucks and all of us know we never want to feel this again,” said Mackesy. “If we get another chance to put on the uniform and play together, we will make sure it doesn’t happen again.”