Editor's note: This article is one of three profiles on the men's lacrosse team's star senior defensemen before their game against Cornell on Saturday for senior night. Go here for a profile of defender Chad Wiedmaier and here for long stick midfielder John Cunningham.
As Princeton fans have watched the mixed fortunes of the men’s lacrosse program over the past four years, one constant that has stood through the folds has been senior goalie Tyler Fiorito. A three-time All-Ivy selection and a two-time All-America, Fiorito is in the middle of possibly his best season yet, ranking second in Division I with a .622 save rate and third with a 6.44 goals against average.
For Fiorito, the key to holding down goal over his career has fundamentally been about confidence.
“Whenever goals go over your head, you can doubt yourself,” he said. “But when I’m confident, I want guys to shoot at me.”
Fiorito explained that the confidence allows his teammates to spend less time defending the goal and more time pressuring their opponents on the other end. The senior’s confidence has seemed to increase in conference play — Fiorito currently has an astounding 4.89 goals against average and has stopped 70.5 percent of shots in five Ivy League games.
“When it’s all working in the backfield, you just want to close down the team so you can give the ball back to your offense,” Fiorito said.
Fiorito’s reliable performance at the Princeton backfield comes as Princeton looks to redeem itself on offense, following a 4-8 season in which much of the team could not play due to injury.
“Our senior class came in as freshmen with high goals for ourselves and each other,” Fiorito said. “So, as a class, we weren’t going to let something like [last season] happen again.”
The surest way to redeem the Princeton program, Fiorito explained, would be with a perfect Ivy League season, which is what the seniors are hoping to leave for the team in their final season. The Tigers are five-sixths of the way there, but they still have to pass their toughest test, Saturday night’s game against No. 7 Cornell.
“The biggest thing is the sense of urgency,” Fiorito said. “Every moment matters, every ground ball, and we don’t want to leave regrets.”
Fiorito’s freshman year certainly started off promising. As a starting goalie throughout the season, he held down the net with a .587 save rate. The highlight of that season, Fiorito said, was playing in Giants Stadium and defeating Syracuse, which was ranked second nationally at the time.
During his four years, Fiorito has started all but one game since he joined the team. Fiorito has earned second-team, third-team and honorable mention All-America honors and has been one of the top two goalies in the league every season. This year, Fiorito — along with sophomore attackman Tom Schreiber — was nominated for the Tewaaraton Trophy, which is given to the best player in college lacrosse.
“To see his leadership development has been tremendous,” head coach Chris Bates said. ”He’s not always a rah-rah kind of person, but when he talks, people listen. It’s not because of his skill as much as how he carries himself as a person.”
Bates, who became Fiorito’s coach before his sophomore season, said that the goalie’s return to confidence has been clear since the start of the year.
“When he’s confident, he starts to rely on his strengths and starts to use his fundamentals more,” Bates said. “After a somewhat slow start, he’s been playing well, and his confidence has been up over the year.”
“It was great to have the team supporting me and to get me back to the confidence I need,” Fiorito said.
After stopping 15 of 20 shots at Harvard last weekend — and after making 20 saves against Cornell last year — the senior has plenty of reasons to be confident on Saturday.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/04/27/30795/