Nobody quite saw it coming. Following a shaky start to the season, the stage was set for the Tigers (2-4 overall, 0-1 Ivy League) to claw their way back into contention with an early conference win on their home field. That script would not play out. On the opening day of Ivy League play, the Penn Quakers (4-2, 1-0) routed men’s lacrosse by a score of 20-10. Saturday’s contest saw eight members of the visiting team score, four of whom tallied hat tricks.
While Princeton still holds a 65-19 lead in the series, which stretches back to 1926, that will serve as little consolation following the weekend’s loss. Particularly bitter is the loss of a decisive home field advantage over their local rivals. The last time the Quakers earned a victory on Sherrerd Field was… actually, never. The Tigers’ last loss at home against Penn came well before the construction of the Class of 1952 Stadium. It was in 1988, a year in which Ronald Reagan faced off against Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow and Rick Astley’s "Never Gonna Give You Up" topped the Billboard 100. In that same year, Penn went on to the NCAA Final Four before falling to Syracuse in a contest famous for the Orange’s legendary Gary Gait scoring from behind the cage.
One further historical note, Penn now joins a select cadre of teams who have scored 20 points against Princeton in a single game. Cornell has accomplished the feat three times and Johns Hopkins four times — most recently in 1990.
Saturday, the Tigers’ assault was thoroughly stifled by a stalwart Quaker defense. Senior attackman Ryan Ambler tallied two goals on seven shots while adding an assist. Sophomore midfielder Austin Sims led the Orange and Black with three goals and two assists, with his linemate, junior Gavin McBride, adding two more scores and an assist. Lack of marquee offensive talent, such asTom Schreiber ’14, Kip Orban '15 andMike MacDonald ’15,suggests that this year’s Princeton squad will need more time to find a recipe for success on offense.
On the other side of the field, the Tigers’ defense and goalkeeping couldn’t hold back the Quakers. The visitors shot at a highly efficient rate of 20-35. Freshman attackman Simon Mathias and sophomore midfielder Kevin McGeary each contributed five goals.
One potential silver lining: sophomore midfielder Sam Bonafede produced one of the season’s stronger efforts at the faceoff ‘X.’ He won 16 of his 25 midfield battles. Mere possession, however, wouldn’t be enough against this tough conference opponent.
The visitors jumped out to a decisive early lead, scoring nine of the contest’s first 10 goals. Experienced teams know that lacrosse is a game of runs, but following the seven consecutive Penn goals scored in a 10 minute span, the Tigers found themselves in a daunting hole. Penn balanced their first half run with a 6-0 tear split between the third and fourth quarters. Princeton just managed to total double digits thanks to two consecutive man-up goals from Ambler and Sims with under five minutes to play.
Next weekend, the Tigers have their work cut out for them at undefeated No. 3 Yale. Princeton split last season’s two meetings with the Bulldogs — both contests ended 11-10, the latter of which decided the Ivy League championship in Yale’s favor.