Men's Lacrosse: Seniors lead dominating 14-9 victory
“If we had to share the championship, it wouldn’t have felt good,” head coach Chris Bates said.
The Tigers continued their second-half upswing, winning eight of their last nine matches with an offense that is peaking as the Tigers enter the postseason.
“I never know what game’s my last anymore,” senior attackman Alex Capretta said, “but at the end of the day, you want to play every game as though it’s your last.”
The Tigers’ offense has also started to heat up entering the postseason, as Princeton has outscored its opponents by at least five goals over its past four wins.
“We are all starting to know each other really well on offense, and you’re starting to see that,” Capretta said. “I know where everyone’s going to be.”
Capretta spearheaded the offense Saturday night, scoring a career-high five goals on senior night. Three minutes into the first quarter, Capretta came from behind the back right side of the crease, slid around a defender and slung a shot to the left side of goalie Andrew West to draw first blood.
Four minutes later, a pair of Tiger goals by junior attackman Forest Sonnenfeldt and freshman attackman Mike MacDonald within two minutes of each other gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead 10 minutes into the first.
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Cornell found its feet when Big Red attackman Roy Lang slid around the Tiger defense and stuffed a shot behind senior goalie Tyler Fiorito.
A few seconds later, Big Red midfielder Matt Donovan won the faceoff and fired a long-ball shot at the foot of Fiorito for another goal.
But the rise in momentum on the Big Red squad and single goal differential would not last long. Princeton and Cornell exchanged goals for the first two minutes of the second quarter to put the score at 4-3.
With 10 minutes left in the half, junior midfielder Jeff Froccaro picked up a ground ball at West’s doorstep and flung the shot over the goalie’s head. In the process, Froccaro set off a four-goal unanswered run.
With the Tigers leading 8-3 with four minutes until halftime, Cornell head coach Ben DeLuca subbed out starting goalie West for A.J. Fiore, last year’s starter who had played just 27 minutes up to that point in the season.
Cornell attackman Cody Bremner took a long-range shot over Fiorito’s head to close out the half, but the Cornell deficit would eventually prove too deep.
Capretta and junior midfielder Tucker Shanley each knocked in goals to take the Tigers to a 10-4 lead at nine minutes left in the third. As the third quarter continued, the Cornell defense became progressively less careful, letting the Tigers get off three goals through from close range.
Meanwhile, the lockstep Princeton defense gave Cornell few chances to piece together a comeback.
The Tigers closed out the third period with a 12-7 lead after the two sides exchanged goals for much of the third.
Princeton’s offense would also move in step with Big Red’s offensive movement to keep the lead in place as the clock continued to chip away at the chance for a comeback.
Capretta ended the night with his best performance of the year, knocking in five goals out of six shots on goal.
Froccaro was second on the stat sheet with three goals and an assist. Froccaro was better than even on faceoffs for the night, winning 10 of 19.
Junior midfielder Bobby Lucas, who usually takes faceoffs for the Tigers, has had a reduced presence on the field due to injury.
Senior long-stick midfielder John Cunningham continued to play on the upswing since crushing Brown. Cunningham teamed up with senior defenseman Chad Wiedmaier to clamp down on Lang, the usual headline scorer for the Big Red, who was held to only a single goal. Cunningham also fought for seven ground balls while playing wing on the faceoff and frequently put pressure on the Cornell defense by turning Wiedmaier’s three forced turnovers into fast break opportunities.
“We’ll probably end up seeing [Cornell] down the road,” Fiorito said, “so it’s a great win for us and we can celebrate, but next week we gotta refocus.”
Brown will meet Princeton at 1952 Stadium on Friday at 8 p.m. If the Tigers win, they will face the winner of the Yale-Cornell matchup on Sunday at noon.