No. 17 men's lacrosse (6-5 overall, 4-1 Ivy League) will travel to play No. 6 Cornell Big Red (10-2, 4-1) for their final regular season game of the year this Saturday, April 29.
The Tigers and Big Red currently sit on top of the Ivy League standings, tied for first and having clinched a spot in the 2023 Ivy League Tournament. This Saturday’s game will determine which team will control the No. 1 seed entering the tournament, and three straight wins for either team would give them the regular season and postseason Ivy Championship along with an automatic NCAA bid.
Men’s lacrosse has been building momentum, winning four of its last five games including last week’s 17–11 victory against the Harvard Crimson (5-6 overall, 2-3 Ivy League). Meanwhile, the Big Red are coming off three straight wins. Last week, Cornell traveled to Brown (5-8, 1-4) and secured a dominant 16–9 victory. The last time the Tigers faced off with the Big Red was last year when Princeton lost 18–15 on their home turf. In this year’s rematch, the Tigers will look for different results when they travel to Ithaca, NY.
Assistant Sports Editor Hayk Yenhibaryan ’26 and contributors Harrison Blank ’26 and JP Ohl ’26 made their predictions for this weekend’s contest.
Men’s Lacrosse vs. Cornell
Princeton 14, Cornell 12 - Hayk Yengibaryan, Assistant Sports Editor
The Tigers need to win this game. The team has yet to get a top 10 win on the year, and its chances of an at-large bid are extremely slim. However, head coach Matt Madalon and his team know that they need to put themselves in the best position for a potential at-large bid if they fail to win the Ivy League tournament.
Things are finally starting to click for the Tigers. Junior goalie Michael Gianforcaro is starting to become a staple in the Tigers’ defense. Sophomore star Coulter Mackesy is coming off one of the best games of his career and his third Ivy Player of the Week honor. Lastly, first-year Andrew McMeekin is coming off a second straight Ivy Rookie of the Week.
Princeton has won four of its last five games after starting the season 2–4, and they head to Ithaca with one goal in mind: to win and avenge last year’s loss. It was April 30, 2022, when Cornell came to Princeton and beat the Tigers on senior day. On Saturday, Princeton will get to visit Cornell and potentially switch the narrative and take home a win.
While Cornell has undoubtedly been a better team this year, ranked sixth in the latest poll, I believe that the Tigers will travel to Ithaca with a point to prove. The Big Red will struggle to contain Mackesy, and I expect the Tigers to jump out to an early lead and protect that lead en route to the biggest win of the season.
Cornell 14, Princeton 11 - Harrison Blank, Sports Contributor
With the regular season championship on the line, the game will feature two of the better defenses in the conference, especially the home Cornell team. The Big Red defense ranks eighth nationally in scoring defense, surrendering under ten goals a game. They also are among the nation's best in forced turnovers, ground balls, and clears.
Cornell's defense is anchored by star defender Gavin Adler, a 2022 All-Ivy First Team and 2022 Inside Lacrosse Media First-Team All-American member. Adler, who tops most Premier Lacrosse League mock drafts, will be a tough challenge for the Princeton offense.
The Tiger offense is coming off of back-to-back 17-point outings, albeit against weaker opponents. Mackesy, who leads the nation in points per game, will have his hands full with the Big Red defense, and the Tigers as a whole will struggle to find shots.
Gianforcaro has the Tigers top three nationally in saves per game and will help the Tiger defense hold back Big Red star CJ Kirst at first, but it will not be enough. Kirst averages the most goals in the country and will cap off his season with four more against the Tigers.
While the Tigers will hang tough for the first two quarters, they will fall behind in the third and will not be able to come back. The stout Big Red defense will prevent the Tiger's fourth-quarter surge. Expect Princeton to have to settle for second place in the Ivy League and a two-seed in next week's Ivy League tournament.
Cornell 15, Princeton 11 - JP Ohl, Contributor
Men’s lacrosse has been incredibly inconsistent this season, which will make an accurate prediction difficult. Mackesy is having one of the greatest single seasons at Princeton, but the Tigers have still lost winnable games.
Cornell’s offense has been red-hot this season, outscoring Ivy opponents by 32 goals. Mackesy will need others to step up and generate offense if Princeton wants a competitive chance, especially in a hostile Ithaca environment.
I believe Princeton’s offense will fall short this weekend. I cannot see them stopping a high-powered Big Red offense. Cornell will have their way offensively and will get a big win on senior day, clinching the No. 1 seed for the Ivy tournament.
Hayk Yengibaryan is an assistant editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
Harrison Blank is a contributor to 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.