Entering the championship on Sunday, the Tigers had only one more hurdle to climb before they could clinch the Ivy League championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Of course, so did the Bulldogs, who dominated Princeton from the beginning, defeating the hosts 15-7 and earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Despite the blowout loss, the Tigers received an at-large bid on Sunday night. Princeton will face No. 5-seed Virginia on the road at 1 p.m. Sunday.
In the rematch, Yale avenged a 10-9 five-overtime loss from March 24.
“I don’t think we came out flat,” senior attackman Alex Capretta said. “I think [the Bulldogs] came out very strong. They won the face-off battle well, and their goalie made a couple of good saves on us in the first quarter. I don’t think we played particularly poorly on offense. I think we could have shot the ball better, but we moved the ball pretty well.”
The Tigers controlled the opening minutes, firing off three shots, but Yale attackman Conrad Oberbeck opened up the scoring, beating senior goaltender Tyler Fiorito off of an assist from Matt Gibson. The Bulldogs ripped off two more goals to end the period and another to begin the second, and Yale was up 4-0.
“They held the ball and brought it behind the net and attacked us from behind,” Fiorito said. “They were patient with ball, and they finished on their opportunities today."
Princeton finally responded a minute later, when Capretta assisted freshman attackman Mike MacDonald to put the Tigers on the board. Princeton’s defense held steady for the next five minutes, including Fiorito’s first save. Junior attackman Jeff Froccaro fired a laser to beat Yale goalie Jack Meyer and sophomore attackman Hunter deButts assisted MacDonald from behind the net, pulling Princeton within one.
But the Bulldogs did not roll over. Less than two minutes after MacDonald’s second goal, Gibson scored off an assist from midfielder Greg Mahony. With the score at 5-3, the Tigers were down by two going into the half.
“We kind of knew we just need to buckle down,” Yale head coach Andy Shay said. “We didn’t want any sort of run [for them] to come back not even because we were worried about the game spiraling out of control, but we want to play good defense all the time, regardless of the score.”
The Bulldogs' offense and face-offs assisted their defense at the beginning of the third period. They scored early in the second half and followed that up with a fast-break score after Yale midfielder Dylan Levings won the face-off, putting the visitors up 7-3. Capretta scored twice in the next two minutes, harkening to his five-goal performance against Cornell last week, but the Bulldogs finished the quarter with another score to go ahead by three at the start of the fourth.
“They’re playing with a ton of confidence,” head coach Chris Bates said. “When you’re playing with confidence, you make plays. It seemed to me today that the ball was bouncing their way.”
That three-goal lead did not hold, as Yale blew the game open at the beginning of the final period. The Bulldogs scored five consecutive goals, going up 13-5 despite seven shots from the Tigers in that span.
“I didn’t think we shot well,” Bates said. “I think we had some opportunities, that if we sink those shots, momentum changes ... we had opportunities, and we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/05/07/30906/