March 20, 2024

Freshman Midfielder Wade Steps Up with 4 Goals, But PU Men’s Lax Falls to Cornell on Last-Second Tally

TUCKING IN: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Tucker Wade races upfield in recent action. Last Sunday, freshman midfielder Wade scored a career-high four goals but it wasn’t enough as No. 13 Princeton got edged 15-14 by No. 15 Cornell on a last second goal in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers, now 4-3 overall and 0-1 Ivy, play at Harvard (6-1 overall, 0-1 Ivy) on March 23. (Photo by Steven Wojtowicz)

By Bill Alden

Tucker Wade broke into the starting lineup for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team in the sixth game this season and is making the most of the opportunity.

After tallying two assists in five games off the bench to start his career, freshman midfielder Wade scored two goals in a 14-8 win over Rutgers on March 10 in his first college start.

“It is always exciting to play more and be a part of this program,” said Wade, a 6’0, 195-pound native of Bethesda, Md. “I wouldn’t want to do it with any other team.”

Last Sunday as No. 13 Princeton hosted No. 15 Cornell in the Ivy League opener for both teams, Wade scored a game-high four goals, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 15-14 on a last-second goal in an exciting topsy-turvy contest that was tied 8-8 at halftime and 12-12 entering the fourth quarter.

While Wade is happy to take a bigger role, his focus is on fitting in with the team.

“It is really about the whole team,” said Wade. “When we are playing our best, it is never about one player.”

In the early going Sunday, the Tigers weren’t playing their best as they trailed 8-2 early in the second quarter. Despite the deficit, Princeton was unfazed.

“We had trust, it was still early in the game,” said Wade. “You are going to be down at some point in the game. It is always a game of runs so you can’t get too high or too low.”

With Wade scoring two goals, Princeton got on a run, scoring six unanswered goals to end the second quarter and make it an 8-8 game.

“That was definitely helpful,” said Wade, reflecting on the spurt. “We were getting shots and they finally started falling. That was good.”

Wade was happy to see his shots fall. “It is always good to see it go in, it is a result of all of the other guys drawing slides,” said Wade. “Today it was me on that end but it could be anybody.”

The Tigers got up 12-8 early in the third quarter as their run extended to 10-0 but Cornell responded with four unanswered goals to knot the contest at 12-12.

“We know what kind of a team they are, they are a great team,” said Wade. “We came back and had a six-goal run and we came out hot in the third quarter. We wished we kept it going. We had a couple of failed clears and that really helped turn the tide for them.”

Things are coming tougher for Wade as he has adjusted to the college game.

“It is a much quicker game and it is lot more of a team sport,” said Wade. “In high school, it is more individual guys. The best teams work together so making sure that everyone is flowing well is the biggest thing on offense.”

With Princeton having the No. 1 freshman class in the country according to Inside Lacrosse, Wade and his classmates are getting into the flow. Freshman attackers Nate Kabiri and Colin Burns have been starters since day one and Cooper Mueller has been seeing action at shortstick midfielder.

“We have a bunch of talented freshman — a lot of guys haven’t seen the field yet that are incredibly talented and could easily move into one of these roles,” said Wade. “We like to think that we are starting to build something here and we are just excited to keep it going.”

Princeton head coach Matt Madalon credited Wade with earning a key role in the midfield.

“He has done a nice job all week in practice so he has earned that role up there,” said Madalon. “He shoots the ball really well on the run.”

Madalon acknowledged that the Tigers misfired in the early stages of the clash with the Big Red.

“We really just tried to settle into our game, I think we just had careless turnovers early on,” said Madalon. “Clearing was unfortunate today. There were system failures and individual failures. We just gave those guys too many possessions down the stretch.”

After building the 12-8 lead, Princeton faltered down the stretch.

“It is 12-8 and then we throw the clear away and the next thing you know it is 12-12,” said Madalon. “It was the same story all day. We have to be more buttoned up on clearing and we have to prepare our team better. You just have to play 60 minutes, we probably played about 35 minutes today.”

With Princeton, now 4-3 overall and 0-1 Ivy and ranked No. 14, playing at No. 16 Harvard (6-1 overall, 0-1 Ivy) this Saturday, Madalon will be looking for his players to be more buttoned up.

“They are a great team, that is going to be a big one for us,” said Madalon. “We have a lot of work to do.”

In Wade’s view, the loss to Cornell shows that the Tigers have a lot of room to grow.

“The real positive is that we didn’t play our best, that is the way we like to look at it,” said Wade. “If we play our best hopefully, there is a different outcome. We have to clean things up.”