Zookeeper and goal-scorer, Solow has the touch: Former high-school All-American from Pennsylvania is first freshman to lead Big Green in scoring since 1991

by Scott Harrison | 5/28/98 5:00am

Late in the second quarter of the Dartmouth-Princeton men's lacrosse game, a ground ball rolled quickly toward the scorers table. Two mammoth Princeton defenders, well over six feet tall, homed in on the ball with their long sticks extended. The now three-time defending champion Tigers were in the midst of a nine-goal run in the second quarter to quell any Dartmouth hopes of an upset. The gears of the powerful machine known as the Princeton Lacrosse team were grinding at full force.

Suddenly a small 5'7" attackman wearing green and white appeared between the two Princeton players. First he lined up the man to his left and threw his body into a single, massive check. The unsuspecting defender was nudged just enough to put the ball out of reach. In a blur of motion the Dartmouth player turned and hit the other Princeton defender just as the ball went out of bounds. If Adam Solow '01 couldn't have the ball, he wouldn't let anyone else have it, either.

"Every time he goes out there, he wants to be the best guy on the field," head coach Tim Nelson said. "He plays hard all the time, whether it's in practice or against Princeton."

"I've never been bigger than anybody, so I have to play with all my heart or I'd get killed," said Solow. "That's what I have to do to stay on the field."

Solow scored three goals that day against Princeton. And four against Brown. And four against UVM. He lead the team with 36 points this year and aside from the Princeton game, the team won every time he scored more than one goal. This was the first year a freshman has lead the lacrosse team in points since 1991 when Brendan Bowler '94 scored 50 points.

His play is characterized by amazing quickness and creativity. Solow spins, jukes, dives, hesitates and jumps en route to the goal. He splits double teams, freezes defenders in their tracks and even makes opponents drop their sticks from time to time. Coach Nelson moved him to attack from midfield for his ability to beat his man off the ball and the Big Green offense exploded.

After scoring a meager six goals in a loss to Yale, Dartmouth scored 29 goals in two wins over Brown and Providence. The team destroyed Vermont 20-4 and scored nine goals against Princeton, the most the Big Green have put in against the Tigers in just over a decade.

"Moving Adam to attack made our team a lot better. People like Gregg [Edell '00] and David [Maher '99] started playing better and our offense began to produce," Nelson said.

"I like being the spark that tries to get us going," Solow said.

Each time he scores he tries to be that spark by going crazy, dancing, jumping and celebrating. He wants to share his energy and excitement with those around him. Despite all of his personal achievements, however, the season was not always a happy one. The team finished 6-7, only slightly better than the 5-7 record of last year.

"This year was tough. I've never been on a losing team before. It's hard having a three-hour bus ride after a loss. It hurts when you know you could have done some things to win against a team you're better than," Solow said.

Indeed, Solow came from a powerhouse high school lacrosse team in Pennsylvania -- Lower Merion High School in Wynnewood. In his senior year the team went to the state semi-finals and the year before they were the champions of the top league in the state. Solow was also the quarterback of Lower Merion's football team.

But lacrosse has long been Solow's passion. Solow began playing lacrosse in eighth grade after watching one of his younger brother's games.

"I saw all the hitting and running and said 'this looks like a lot of fun," Solow said.

The very next day he purchased a stick and the Solow family taught him the trade, particularly his father, who was an All-American lacrosse player at Penn. A year later Solow made the varsity team as a freshman in high school and his career took off from there. He was named an All-American both junior and senior year.

Senior year he scored 96 points, more than any other player in Lower Merion history. He was also one of four players selected to represent the state of Pennsylvania in the North-South national all-star game of the top 60 players in the nation.

Solow planned on following his father's footsteps to Penn, but under the influence of friend and high school teammate Gary Stern '99, Solow paid Dartmouth a visit and fell in love. Solow's younger brother, however, took no such advice and will be playing for Penn next year.

"It's going to be weird playing him next year. We'll just have to forget we're brothers during the game. If I have a chance to hit him, I'm going to knock his head off."

Off the field, Solow's demeanor undergoes a dramatic transition. It's tough to spot him without a smile on his face and his friendly easy-going disposition would never reveal his ruthless competitive nature. Solow is an animal lover and lived in a virtual zoo back home. He had an alligator, three snakes (including a boa constrictor), a parrot, turtles, frogs, fish, two dogs and a cat, among many other animals. He is considering a major in environmental studies for a possible future working with wildlife.

But for now, Solow's focus is on lacrosse and winning next season. Two-thirds of the team is comprised of underclassmen and the future looks bright. Even though teams will now focus on stopping Solow first, Nelson thinks Solow is only going to get better.

"Brian Merritt ['97] was the best player I've seen at Dartmouth in my nine years here. Adam has a chance to be just as good," Nelson said.

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