COMING THROUGH: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Alex Slusher fights to get past a Cornell defender in action last season. Star attacker Slusher scored 46 goals in 2022 in his junior season to help the Tigers advance to the NCAA Final 4 for the first time since 2004. Princeton opens its 2023 season by hosting Monmouth on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
After advancing to the NCAA Final 4 last spring for the first time since 2004, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team is hoping that the stirring postseason run will be a harbinger of things to come.
“Hopefully, it will pay dividends in experience if we are fortunate enough to earn that opportunity again,” said Princeton head coach Matt Madalon, who guided the Tigers to an 11-5 overall record in 2022. “I think the more you get back there, the more comfortable you feel in those settings.”
The squad developed a deeper comfort level after going on a fall trip to Spain and Andorra.
“It absolutely helped, any time you can get your team away from the normal routine of Princeton, academically and athletically, is good,” said Madalon. “To be able to get them out of the country and eat all of your meals together and see the coaches in a different light, it is all very wonderful.”
Princeton didn’t have much time to get up and running for the 2023 campaign as it had a whirlwind preseason.
“Preseason was 10 practices, two scrimmages, and two days off,” said Madalon, whose team is ranked fourth in this week’s Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and hosts Monmouth on February 18 in its 2023 season opener. “It was good, I think we stayed relatively healthy. We are still just trying to build off of last year and teach the new guys some things.”
Madalon is expecting great things from his top attack group of senior Alex Slusher (46 goals, 10 assists in 2022), sophomore Coulter Mackesy (28 goals, 15 assists), and sophomore Braedon Saris (1 assist).
“Alex has gotten better every year, he is a leader down there,” said Madalon, who will also be using sophomore Jack Ringhofer, senior Jack Crockett, and freshman Chad Palumbo on attack. “He is showing the poise and dealing with the pressure that gets put on that unit so he is wonderful. Coulter stepped up big time last year, we have got really high hopes for that young guy. Playing to their right will be Braedon, he is a Canadian guy, he is skilled with a high IQ. He is very complementary to the other guys.” more