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Men’s lacrosse defeats Denver 14–13 in competitive thriller

Matt Madalon and Bill Tierney embrace after the game. Photo credit: Shelley M. Szwast /
Matt Madalon and Bill Tierney embrace after the game. Photo credit: Shelley M. Szwast /

Men’s lacrosse (3–5, 0–2 Ivy) defeated University of Denver (5–3) 14–13 in a nail-biter on Tuesday evening. The Tigers pulled ahead early in the game at Sherrerd Field, fell behind, and came back to secure victory against the Pioneers. 

Denver’s head coach, Bill Tierney, won an impressive six national championships while he was Princeton’s head men’s lacrosse coach from 1988–2009. Despite a pleasant ceremony before the first whistle, Tuesday night’s homecoming did not end well for Tierney’s new team.

Princeton got off to a hot start with two goals in the first minute. Senior attacker Emmet Cordrey scored the Tigers’ first goal only 45 seconds into the game after the team dominated possession in their offensive half. First-year midfielder Jake Stevens scored off of the resulting face-off, bringing Princeton two goals ahead of Denver. 

The Pioneers responded two minutes later with two goals in quick succession. They scored at 12:46 and converted quickly on the face-off at 12:33, tying the game 2–2. They pulled ahead in the 10th minute with another goal and increased their lead with six minutes left in the first quarter after a defensive clear. Princeton’s sophomore attacker Chris Brown scored with less than two minutes to go and the quarter finished 4–3 in Denver’s favor. 

Denver opened the second quarter with a goal two and a half minutes after the starting whistle. Junior attacker Michael Sowers responded with his first goal of the game, although the Pioneers capitalized on the resulting face-off to bring the game to 6–4. Another goal by Sowers at 7:44 and Brown’s second of the game 20 seconds later brought the Tigers even with their opponents. Both teams scored once more before the half finished 7–7, although Denver had eight shots while the Tigers had one.

Sophomore middie Jamie Atkinson was the first to score in the third quarter, giving Princeton its first lead since the opening minutes of the game. The two teams traded points for the remainder of the half. After Atkinson made it 8–7, Sowers scored with five minutes to go and assisted Brown and junior attacker Phillip Robertson in their goals. The third quarter finished 11–10 in the Tigers’ favor with no team completely dominating play. 

Robertson scored first in the fourth quarter, bringing Princeton two ahead. Although Denver responded with a minute later with a goal, first-year midfielder Beau Pederson scored with seven minutes to go, bringing the score to 13–11. Cordrey’s goal with three minutes remaining increased the Tigers’ point buffer, but two goals in the last minute from Denver brought everyone on edge. Princeton held out, and the game ended 14–13. 

“It was a great win for our guys. We’ve got a gritty group and a battle tested group,” said head coach Matt Madalon. “It’s our fashion this year, we’re able to get back into tight games. I’m really happy with the execution down the stretch. Some really impressive individual plays.” 

Still, there is room for improvement on offense, the coach noted. “We shot ourselves in the foot a few times. We’ve got to be poised with the ball, limit some mistakes.” On defense, “we’ve got to keep growing and learning on defense. There are a lot of good offensive coordinators out there and we defended one today.”

The Tigers resume Ivy League play this Saturday when they will take on Brown University (3–5, 1–0 Ivy). 

“We absolutely are ready for Ivy play,” said Coach Madalon. 

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