Losing doesn’t deter the Tigers. It motivates them.
After suffering a tough loss to No. 8 Yale the previous week, No. 6 Princeton men’s lacrosse (6–2 overall, 2–1 Ivy League) faced the Brown Bears (5–4, 0–2) in Providence, R.I. on Saturday, April 2. The Tigers put up a dominant performance against a Brown team that had just dropped out of the top 20 in the national rankings.
The game began with Brown appearing to control the tempo, as the Bears led 2–1 with just over four minutes left in the opening period. However, a late flurry of goals from junior attacker Alex Slusher and junior midfielder Jake Stevens suddenly put the Tigers in the driver’s seat with a 4–2 advantage.
With their foot on the gas, Princeton extended their scoring run with another goal from junior midfielder Alexander Vardaro to make it four unanswered. With eight minutes left to play before halftime, the Bears were finally able to get out of their offensive slump, but sophomore face-off player Tyler Sandoval answered within five seconds to preserve Princeton’s three goal lead.
For the rest of the second period, the two teams matched each other goal for goal, stop for stop, and the game went into the break with the Tigers leading 7–5. Although Princeton was ahead on the scoreboard, the match was still wide open and the lead could change quickly with a breakthrough from either squad. That breakthrough came just 30 seconds into the third period, with a goal from Slusher sparking a 6–0 run for the Tigers that helped them finally pull away. Brown attempted to come back from their 8-point deficit with three unanswered goals of their own to end the third quarter, but Princeton did not let up, scoring four more in the fourth and limiting the Bears to just one.
While the final score was 17–9 in favor of Princeton, the stat sheets showed a very evenly matched and contested battle between the two teams. The Tigers were outshot by Brown 45–42, caused two fewer turnovers, and won four fewer face-offs. Still, through an extremely gritty, physical, and efficient outing, the Tigers fought and showed that good teams find ways to win.
Continuing his outstanding play, Slusher’s career-high six goals definitely helped field Princeton to this much needed victory over a Brown team who has been one of the Tigers’ toughest opponents in years past. Additionally, Vardaro and senior attacker Chris Brown logged three and two goals, respectively. Senior goalkeeper Erik Peters recorded 15 saves behind a strong effort from the team’s defensive players.
The Tigers will look to begin another win streak as they take on Marist on Tuesday, April 5 with a home-field advantage at Sherrerd Field.
Eric Lee is a senior writer for the Sports section at the ‘Prince’. He can be reached at email@example.com or on instagram @airic.lee.