A week after a disappointing showing against powerhouse No. 4 Maryland (3–2 overall, 0–0 Big Ten), No. 5 Princeton men’s lacrosse (2–2, 0–0 Ivy League), yet again, failed to demonstrate their case as a top-five team and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship contender against Georgetown (1–3, 0–0 Big East).
The Georgetown Hoyas came into this match winless and desperate, but still talented. Despite what their 0–3 record showed, the Hoyas were underrated, having been ranked third in the pre-season poll. Princeton had previously never lost to Georgetown in the regular season, but hopes of keeping their winning streak alive quickly diminished.
Nine goals would come in a fast paced and attack-oriented quarter. Georgetown would start the scoring quickly, with midfielder Declan McDermott scoring in the first two minutes of play. Shortly after, Princeton would score two goals courtesy of sophomore attacker Coulter Mackesy and junior midfielder Tommy Barnds. Mackesy is Princeton’s leading scorer and the centerpiece to its offense.
This 2–1 lead early in the first quarter would be the Tigers’ only lead of the game, as Georgetown’s steady attack and poised defense would control the rest of the game. The Hoyas scored three unanswered goals until Mackesy’s second goal of the game came with 3:25 left in the first. Senior midfielder Jake Stevens’ would tie the game at 4–4 with 2:27 left to play in the first. The Hoyas would start a run with a goal to end the first quarter up 5–4.
A big moment came in the beginning of the second quarter. The Hoyas had a man-up penalty that the Tigers successfully killed. Shortly after, it appeared that senior attacker Alex Slusher had scored and tied things up, but it was ruled that he was in the crease, and the goal was disallowed, prompting outrage from the Tiger bench and the home crowd.
When asked about the officiating decisions throughout the game, head coach Matt Madalon said he had nothing but respect for the referees.
“It’s a really tough game to officiate,“ Madalon told The Daily Princetonian after the game. “Even though we [argue] with them, it’s normally just for the emotion behind [the game]. [The officials] did a great job.”
The Hoyas would then go on to kill a Princeton man-up that lasted a full minute and score two quick goals to cap off a 3–0 run.
Thankfully for Princeton, Mackesy would again find the back of the net for the third time in the half, along with Stevens’ man up goal to end the half down only one, 7–6.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the third quarter belonged to the Hoyas, who would go on a five-goal run. It marked the third multi-goal run of the game for Georgetown, with Princeton once again struggling to answer the Hoyas’ tenacious offense.
Mackesy would again end the Tigers’ bleeding with his fourth goal of the game, but by then the Tigers were in a pit that was inescapable. Two more goals by Stevens’ and yet another contribution by Mackesy, his fifth, would prove futile towards the Princeton effort.
With the score at 12–9 with five minutes to play, each team would go on to score once more before the final whistle blew.
The 13–10 loss marked a painful and disappointing loss for Princeton. Three Hoyas recorded hat tricks: McDermott and attackers Brian Minicus and Tucker Dordevic. Georgetown also won the face-off matchup, winning 13 out of 25, courtesy of James Reilly.
The Tigers will recalibrate and adjust this week. The loss may serve as a wake-up call for this highly-touted program that came into the season with expectations to make another Final Four run.
“Over the last couple of weeks, in terms of practice, we are trying to clean up some of our systems, be a little more disciplined in some of the gray areas,” Madalon told the ‘Prince.’ “Unfortunately we just made too many mistakes in those moments today.”
Princeton will be back again Saturday, March 11 in Piscataway, NJ against No. 8 Rutgers (5–1, 0–0 Big Ten). This game will mark the 100th meeting between the two and a face-off against another ranked foe that will prove to be a strenuous task for this struggling Princeton team.
“Fire it up, state championship. Another big game!” Madalon added.
It is early in the season, mistakes and hiccups are natural. However, the question remains: Will we see this Princeton team bounce back and show the nation that they can repeat the success from last season?
Only time will tell …
Hayk Yengibaryan is an assistant editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
JP Ohl is a contributor to the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.