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Michael Sowers in the game against Harvard. Photo Credit: Jack Graham, Daily Princetonian

Men’s lacrosse (7–6, 2–3 Ivy) defeated Harvard University (5–7, 1–4) 19–15 on Saturday afternoon at Sherrerd Field, keeping their playoff hopes alive. Junior attacker and captain Michael Sowers had 10 points — three goals and seven assists — which brings his career total to 247, tying all-time point record holder Kevin Lowe ’94. 

The Tigers were first to score, with senior midfielder Mike Morean hitting the back of the net at 12:11 in the first quarter. Sowers was next, scoring his 28th goal of the season in the ninth minute. Freshman midfielder Jake Stevens made it 3–0 for the Tigers before Harvard went on the offensive and tied the game 3–3 in the seventh minute. Princeton responded by scoring four more and allowing only one more Crimson goal before the quarter ended 7–4.

In the second quarter, Harvard got within one in the 10th minute after Kyle Anderson scored on a man-up play to make it 7–6 in the Tigers favor. Both teams scored six goals in the second quarter, leaving the score at halftime 13–10. The third quarter was also close with three goals from each team. Sowers scored with four minutes to go in the final quarter, putting the nail on the coffin for Harvard. Princeton won 19–15.

Princeton and Harvard had a combined 95 shots and 94 ground balls, reflecting the intensity of the game. The win wasn’t an easy one for the Tigers.

“We had lots of broken plays, some undisciplined pushes, opportunities to get out of those and widen the gap,” said head coach Matt Madalon. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, there were some undisciplined moments today.”

Sowers called his record-tying game “truly an honor.” When asked how he did it, he humbly credited his coaches and teammates for supporting him all the way.

“It’s a growth mindset — I approach every every with what can I do to get better, what can I do to help the team,” Sowers said. “[My teammates] make my job really easy.”

The win on Saturday leaves the Tigers a chance to advance to the playoffs, otherwise known as the Ivy League Tournament (ILT). Princeton must defeat Cornell in their final regular season game this coming weekend in order to even have a chance to qualify for the ILT. If they lose, they’ll automatically be out of the running.

The top four ranked teams in the Ivy League qualify for the ILT. Cornell is currently 3–2 in the Ivy League and in third place. Princeton and Brown are both 2–3 and tied for fourth place. Should Princeton beat Cornell and Brown lose their game to Dartmouth this weekend, the Tigers will head to the playoffs. If Princeton beats Cornell and Brown wins their game, all three teams will be tied for third place and the tiebreaker gets complicated.

Since all three teams are 2–0 against Harvard and Dartmouth, 0–2 against Penn and Yale, and 1–1 against each other, the tiebreaker comes down to head-to-head goal differential. Princeton lost to Brown by four points, so consider them —4 right now. Since Brown beat Princeton by 4 but lost to Cornell by 3, they are +1. As it stands, Cornell is at +3, Brown is at +1, and Princeton is at —4.

The winner of this head-to-head goal differential will earn the third place spot in the Ivy League and the fourth place spot will be determined by whoever won the season matchup between the remaining two teams.

So basically: Princeton must beat Cornell by at least three points to push Brown into the lead on goal differential, giving the Bears the third place spot. Then, since Princeton would beat Cornell in their head-to-head game, they would earn the fourth place spot. If Princeton beats Cornell by at least six goals, the Tigers would take third in the Ivy League due to goal differential and Cornell would earn the head-to-head fourth place spot because they beat Brown in the regular season.

All of this means Saturday’s game is going to be intense, to say the least.

“We’re gonna throw everything at them,” Madalon said.

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