April 5, 2023

With Senior Midfielder English Finding the Range, Princeton Men’s Lacrosse Defeats Brown 16-12

ENGLISH ACCENT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Sam English fires a shot in a game last year. Last Saturday, senior midfielder English tailed three goals and an assist to help Princeton defeat Brown 16-12. The Tigers, now 4-4 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, host Syracuse on April 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After producing a breakout season last year by tallying 30 goals and 18 assists for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team, Sammy English has been misfiring a bit this spring.

Coming into last Saturday’s game against visiting Brown, senior midfielder English had scored four goals with 12 assists.

But wasting no time finding the range against the Bears, English scored a goal 2:45 into the contest. He went on to notch three goals and an assist to help the Tigers pull away to a 16-12 win over Brown before a crowd of 1,712 at Class of 52 Stadium and improve to 4-4 overall and 2-1 Ivy League.

“It has been a little slower this year than I think I have wanted it, compared to last year at least,” said English, a 6’1, 180-pound native of Burlington, Ontario, who helped Canada earn a silver medal last summer at the U21 men’s lacrosse World Championship. “This is good to get back on the horse and feel a little bit better and start putting balls away. I was not hitting the shots I want to be hitting. You can’t stop, you have to keep being aggressive and today it worked out a little bit better.”

Things started working better for the Tigers when they routed Yale 23-10 on March 25 to snap a four-game losing streak.

“We had a tough day against Penn (a 9-8 overtime loss on March 18); I think the whole week leading up to last Saturday was the turning point entirely,” said English. “Coming out here and executing what we have been working on and what we know we are capable of, it’s a good feeling.”

Against both Yale and Brown, the Tigers were missing some key players like Alex Slusher, Braedon Saris, and Tyler Sandoval but were still able to come through.

“It is just next man up; Lucas Stanat and Jack Ringhofer were stepping up into big roles and just playing well,” said English. “I think each guy got four points in the last two games when they needed it. It has been good to have those guys in there and getting work done.”

In the victory over the Bears, the Tigers got it done in the third quarter, reeling off a 6-0 run after Brown had knotted the contest at 7-7.

“It was just hitting our shots, the whole game we were getting looks that we wanted to get,” said English, who had a goal and an assist in that stretch. “I think Stan (Stanat) had a big one, I think [Christian] Ronda and one. It was just getting hot, picking corners.”

In English’s view, the Tigers are looking good headed into stretch drive of the regular season. “We are getting into groove,” said English. “We are getting it and we are about to stay hot. We have got big Ivy League play coming up.”

This Saturday, Princeton has got a big test coming up as it hosts Syracuse, renewing a historic rivalry with the Orange.

“Syracuse is exciting, we haven’t played those guys in forever,” said English. “We have been talking about it — it is exciting. It is going to be fun to get those guys on the field.”

Princeton head coach Matt Madalon liked the way his guys took care of business against Brown.

“It was just sticking to the process; coach Mitch (offensive coordinator Jim Mitchell) has done a good job with that group,” said Madalon. “They put a lot of pressure on themselves shooting-percentage wise. We struggled early on and it has been a focus in practice. It is good to see the production on game day.”

The Tigers got good production from a number of players as Coulter Mackesy scored three goals with Jake Stevens, Stanat, Ringhofer, and Ronda tallying two apiece.

“That is what you need; you really have to have a balanced offense, it has got to be complementary lacrosse,” said Madalon. “I think those guys, to coach Mitch’s credit again, are attacking from all over. Guys are stepping up.”

Madalon saw English as a catalyst against Brown. “Sammy puts so much pressure on himself and he probably wore the shooting percentage thing more than anybody,” said Madalon.“Every day he is like our best guy — we smile at it. It is about time.”

Seeing different guys step up against the Bears was heartening for Madalon.

“That stuff is so important. The grit is awesome, the next man up mentality is so cool to see,” said Madalon.

“The guys train all day, every day, and only about 23 guys get to play on game day. When guys go down, as a coaching staff and a program, we are really proud of the guys that step up. It is good development so I am proud of those guys.”

In reflecting on Princeton’s third quarter burst, Madalon declined to take credit.

“It was nothing profound, I wish I could claim a halftime speech or something,” said Madalon. “It was really up the focus, up the intensity, and we were fortunate to hit some shots.”

While the Tiger defense held the fort in the waning moments of the game, Madalon acknowledged that it wasn’t the sharpest effort at that end of the field.

“We were a little frustrated with that group today,” said Madalon. “They made some big stops, but they gave up some undisciplined goals.”

As Princeton, now ranked 15th in the Inside Lacrosse media poll, looks ahead to the clash against Syracuse, Madalon believes his team’s sense of urgency has it on the right track.

“We are in a must-win mindset every day; for us, we only have 12 opportunities so they are all really big,” said Madalon. “Obviously, you get your back against the wall a little bit in a tough four-game stretch and in the Ivy League with the Penn loss. Our guys take it pretty seriously. We felt like we were on a pretty good path all year, we are just trying to stick with it.”

English, for his part, believes that the Tigers can go even further than last spring when they advanced to the NCAA Final 4 for the first time since 2004.

“Last year was a showcase of what we can do and this year we came into it with national championship aspirations and those were real goals,” said English. “It was a little slow to start, but I think we are back on the train and we are feeling good now.”