On a cold rainy Saturday afternoon, No. 20 men’s lacrosse (3–4 overall, 1–1 Ivy League) upset No. 12 Yale (3–3, 0–2) in a 23–10 win, securing their first league victory of the season.
The game was the 108th all-time meeting between the two teams whose rivalry dates back to the 1880s. This game also marked a rematch of last year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) quarterfinal matchup, which had also resulted in a Princeton win.
The Tigers came into Saturday’s game needing a season-altering win after back-to-back overtime losses to both Rutgers (7–2, 0–1 Big Ten) and Penn (3–4, 1–1) in their previous two games. Sophomore attacker Coulter Mackesy, was instrumental to the Tigers’ win, as he was involved in 10 of Princeton’s 23 goals, finishing with eight goals and two assists.
"Coming off two overtime losses against Rutgers and Penn is really hard," Mackesy said in a post-game interview on ESPN+. “We’ve learned a lot these past three weeks and it was great to win on our home field.”
Yale began the game with a face-off win and a goal by midfielder Jack Monfort after only a minute of play. The Tiger offense quickly received a chance to equal the score with a 30-second man-up opportunity, but unfortunately for the Tigers, they could not capitalize.
The ensuing minutes involved back-and-forth possessions by both teams, with a couple of Princeton shots hitting off the goalposts and the Tiger defense forcing turnovers to keep the score 1–0 in favor of Yale.
Mackesy began his successful day by putting the Tigers on the scoreboard at 7:11 in the first quarter with his 20th goal of the season during a man-up possession, firing a left-handed shot from the right side of the field.
By then, the Princeton offense had settled in, and the Tigers were ready to take the lead. After a face-off win by sophomore Koby Ginder, who was filling in for the injured Tyler Sandoval, Mackesy added his second goal of the day barely a minute after his first.
Shots started to pour into the Yale goal, challenging Bulldog goalie Jared Paquette. Mackesy’s dominant performance continued as an underhand shot gave him a first quarter hat-trick less than twelve minutes into the game.
Mackesy added his fourth goal on the Tigers’ third man-up opportunity of the first quarter, and Princeton entered the second quarter up 4—1. After surrendering an early goal, the Tiger defense stood strong for the next 14 minutes, forcing turnovers and errant shots.
Another goal from Mackesy, a goal from sophomore attacker Jack Ringhofer in his first career start, and senior midfielder Beau Pederson’s first goal of the season soon gave Princeton a 7—1 cushion. Yale momentarily closed to within five after a man-up goal by midfielder Thomas Bragg and another goal from attacker Brady McDermott, but the Princeton offense refused to be quieted.
The Tigers ended the second quarter on a 4–0 run, highlighted by a coast-to-coast fast break goal from Pederson for his second of the game, and Mackesy scored his sixth of half. Junior attacker Lukas Stanat also added his second goal of the game and senior midfielder Alex Vardaro put his name on the box score with his first goal of the game.
The offensive explosion by the Tigers coupled with aggressive defense and stalwart goaltending from junior goalie Michael Gianforcaro gave Princeton a 12–3 lead entering halftime, as they searched for their first Ivy League win.
As rain poured down in the beginning of the third quarter, Yale scored two straight goals in an attempt to close the nine-goal gap, but senior midfielder Christian Ronda halted the Bulldog run, scoring his first goal of the night with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
Ginder continued showed the depth of the Princeton team with a face-off goal to give Princeton a 15–5 lead. The Tiger offense was firing on all cylinders, scoring three more in the quarter.
Even with a 18–7 lead to start the fourth quarter, the Tigers kept their starters on the field, trying to solidify a statement win. The Princeton faithful stayed at Sherrerd Field to watch the historic offensive performance continue against a bitter rival.
The Tigers and Bulldogs traded goals for the entirety of the fourth quarter, with a final score of 23–10. Sophomore midfielder Sean Cameron scored two for the Tigers, and senior attacker Weston Carpenter added another. Ronda also scored his fourth goal of the day in the offensive onslaught.
Early-season concerns that the Tiger offense was reliant on Mackesy for success were put to rest as the Tigers received help on the attacking end from a variety of players, with ten different goal scorers on the day.
It was the goal scoring that ruled the day for Princeton, as their 23 goals were the most all-time against Yale. Meanwhile, the physical defense from the Tigers kept Yale out of the game from the early-going.
Princeton continues their Ivy League schedule next week at home at Sherrerd Field against the Brown Bears (3–4, 0–1) who are coming off two consecutive one-point losses to Harvard in overtime and UMass Amherst.
The Tigers have several must-win games coming up if they want to make the Ivy League tournament and potentially the NCAA tournament, but Saturday’s win is a great start.
"To get back to 1–1 in league play is huge for us, it’s a big confidence booster," Macksey said.
Harrison Blank is a contributor to the Sports section at the ’Prince.’
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