Men’s lacrosse falls to Princeton in blowout

by Haley Gordon | 4/12/15 6:01pm

Though the Big Green’s defensive efforts kept Princeton University at bay early, the TIgers scored 11 goals in the final half.
by Eliza McDonough / The Dartmouth

Men’s lacrosse took the field against No. 14 Princeton University in front of an enthusiastic crowd Saturday afternoon. The Big Green fought hard, but ultimately fell to Princeton’s powerful offense by a score of 16-5, bringing their overall record to 3-6 and their Ivy record to 1-3.

Play began with a Dartmouth possession after a ground ball battle from the faceoff, leading to a scoring chance for Jack Connolly ’16 who shot and narrowly missed the net. Maintaining possession, the Big Green worked the ball around the net until Jack Korzelius ’18 spotted an open Adam Fishman ’15, and Fishman scored in the first two minutes of gameplay. Fishman would go on to score again in the first period and came away from the game with four goals total.

This opening play set the tone for the Big Green’s first half, as the team managed to limit the Tigers’ offense and stay in the game with possession of ground balls and intensity of game play. The men ended the first period trailing Princeton two to four and held the Tigers to just one additional goal in the second.

“You have to contain their offense,” head coach Brendan Callahan said of Princeton. “They have a very good offense, very good personality and a good scheme there — and then you have to score. That was our main focus: containing what they were doing and we knew we’d have to outscore them.”

Despite the strong opening, Dartmouth had to battle for every possession against Princeton. Princeton won the faceoff after the Big Green’s initial goal and took the ball right into the defensive zone to challenge the net. While goalkeeper Blair Friedensohn ’16 made an impressive stick save and fended off a rebound challenge, Princeton’s Gavin McBride would even the score at one only a few plays later.

“We were talking, we were very loud,” defenseman Austin Duncan ’16 said. “Whenever somebody needed help, we were there. [Friedensohn] really stepped up in the first half, he made a few big saves and we were able to get the ball out quick. Other than that, I think we played well together and we were just playing tough.”Faceoffs would consistently challenge the team throughout the game, and the statistics reflect a close battle between the two players who took the most: Dartmouth’s Phil Hession ’15 and Princeton’s Sam Bonafede.

While Princeton came away with five of the seven faceoffs in the first period, the Big Green edged ahead by the end, winning 14 of 25.“He’s great at getting those possessions in the middle of the field for us,” Callahan said of Hession. “He always battles.”Equally important as gaining possession from faceoffs is gaining possession off of ground balls.

“Really it was how we competed on the ground. In lacrosse that’s the big competitive stat there,” Callahan said. “The ground balls were tied in the first half. They come out in the second half and watch a couple big ground balls lead to turnovers and that’s what a good team does, they put it to us in those situations.”

The ground balls were 15 to 15 at the end of the second period, but the final numbers saw Princeton edge ahead to take a 30-29 lead in ground balls won. The Big Green’s real difficulty came from turnovers, with a total of 21 to Princeton’s 14.

“I think that we have to continue to get better at the things that secure us possessions,” Callahan said. “So it’s our stick protection off the ground, as we’re getting into our offense it’s the unforced turnovers.”

Callahan said that it’s inevitable that a team will turn over the ball while playing on defense, but a focus for the team moving forward will be cutting down on unforced turnovers so the team can continue to have opportunities to put pressure on their opponents.

Fishman echoed his coach’s emphasis on possession and added that the offense will work on pacing for their next game.

“We did great with our spacing,” Fishman said. “Our pace was something that I think we can continue to improve upon, especially when the ball is on the ground. Sometimes you’re going to hit a pipe, sometimes the ball is going to come out of your stick, and we need to bring that pace element back into our game where we’re fighting on every ground ball.”

The sun came out during halftime, and things appeared to be looking bright for the reenergized Dartmouth team as they only trailed by two goals at the beginning of the third. Princeton took to the field swinging, though, causing several turnovers via checks and taking advantage of low hanging Big Green sticks.

Princeton would go on to score seven goals in the third period, dominating all over the field. Cam Lee ’16 managed to score the lone goal of the period for the Big Green after a hard and low shot beat the Princeton goalkeeper. The Tigers were led by Mike MacDonald and Kip Orban who scored three and two goals in the period, respectively.

In the fourth period, the men’s team looked to make up some lost ground, beginning with Fishman’s fourth goal of the game, assisted by Adam Hull ’15 just a minute and 40 seconds into the final stretch. Despite efforts from both the offense and defense, Princeton would go on to score four unanswered goals to close the game. With just 10 seconds remaining in the game, Princeton sophomore Matt Brophy notched his first career goal to deliver the coup de grace to the Big Green’s hopes.

When asked about what contributed to the loss, Callahan said, “For us, it was being able to control the ball, which we struggled with, and when you do that you keep giving a good offense too many chances. You have to try and limit their chances and that was our focus and it played out well in some parts and other parts it wasn’t and any time it wasn’t they were able to take advantage of it.”

The men’s lacrosse team won’t have to wait long before taking to the field, though, as they travel to Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday to take on the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where the team will play in hope of overcoming their current three-game losing streak.