Men’s lacrosse (6–6, 1–3 Ivy) will face Harvard University (5–6, 1–3) on Saturday afternoon at Sherrerd Field in Princeton. The teams are tied for fifth in Ivy League play with two games remaining. This weekend’s match is high stakes — whichever team loses will be effectively eliminated from playoff contention.
Princeton’s head coach, Matt Madalon, said his team is prepared and excited to compete in such an important game.
“We’re in playoff mentality with our backs against the wall,” he said. “The guys are fired up and looking forward to the opportunity. We control our fate and are ready for this weekend.”
Last season when the two teams met, the Tigers beat the Crimson 15–10 in Cambridge. The last time they faced off at Sherrerd Field, Princeton won 12–9. In fact, Princeton has defeated Harvard 34 out of the 41 times they’ve met at Princeton and holds the lead on the overall record of 60–24–1.
The key to Tiger success this weekend, according to Madalon, is locking down on defense and being smart in their own half.
“We’ve got to come out, sink into our defensive system, play good one-on-one defense, and keep manufacturing stops,” he said. “We need to let the goalie make some saves and allow him to see the shots we don’t want to give up.”
Madalon isn’t too worried about the offensive line, noting that “they’ve been consistent and efficient all year.”
“If we keep giving the ball to our offense, those guys are going to do wonderful things with it,” he said.
One of these wonderful things may be the fact that junior attacker Michael Sowers is only 11 points (goals and assists) away from breaking the program’s all-time points record of 247 points, held by Kevin Lowe ’94. Sowers had an 11-point game against Siena College last week and has the potential to do it again, “if we do right by him,” the coach said. Still, they’re not letting it get to their heads.
“He’s not the guy to focus on that kind of thing and as a team we aren’t, either,” said Madalon.
After losing their first three, Princeton claimed its first Ivy League win this season against Dartmouth last weekend. In Hanover, New Hampshire, the Tigers defeated the Big Green 13–4. While the score might indicate a drubbing, Madalon assured that it didn’t seem like it on the field.
“It didn’t feel like a blowout from a coaching standpoint or a player in-game standpoint,” he said. The coach attributed these feelings to a tight first quarter that saw Dartmouth go up twice over the Tigers before trailing 4–3 at the whistle.
The second half is where the team showed its true potential, according to Madalon. “We started playing at the right speed and playing really well. We had a ton of shots.”
Emulating last week’s strategies will help the team emerge victorious.
“If we make sure we’re executing our technique on offense and defense,“ said Madalon, “we’ll hopefully come out on top.”