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No. 15 men’s lacrosse falls 16–13 to Syracuse

The Tigers are currently second in the Ivy League.
Courtesy of Split2ndPhoto/@TigerLacrosse/Twitter.

No. 15 men’s lacrosse (4–5 overall, 2–1 Ivy League) suffered a 16–13 loss on Saturday at Sherrerd Field to the Syracuse Orange (7–5 overall, 0–3 Atlantic Coast), breaking their two-game win-streak.

After two consecutive Ivy League wins over the Yale Bulldogs and the Brown Bears, the Tigers fell short of a third win and now risk dropping out of the Inside Lacrosse top-20 national rankings. The loss places massive importance on the Tigers’ final three games of the season, all of which are Ivy League matchups.


The all-orange clash started out red-hot in the first half, as the two teams combined for 21 of the 28 total goals in the first two quarters. Syracuse grabbed an early 5–1 lead, and the Tigers spent the rest of the game clawing their way back, getting as close as one goal behind at times. The Orange shut out the Tigers in the fourth quarter, though, stonewalling the Princeton comeback.

The Orange offense opened the game with a goal off the opening face-off by long-stick midfielder Saam Olexo in the early seconds to go up 1–0. The Tigers quickly evened the score at one apiece with a man-up goal from the right side by sophomore attacker Coulter Mackesy.

Face-off struggles plagued the Tigers in the early going, leading directly to another Orange goal and long stretches on defense for the Tigers. Syracuse strung together four straight goals to gain a 5–1 lead after four separate players found the back of the net.

After a timeout following the fifth Syracuse goal from Tiger head coach Matt Madalon, Princeton responded by winning the face-off and scoring one of their own. Senior attacker Alex Slusher, in his first game back from injury, executed a perfect spin move and dropped his defender before beating the Orange goalie.

The Tiger defense then settled in and began to force turnovers and ground balls from the high-powered Orange offense. Junior goalie Michael Gianforcaro had several strong saves in the first quarter to keep the score close.

Sophomore attacker Jack Ringhofer trimmed the Syracuse lead to two with a goal at 1:27 left in the first quarter after a skillful pass from senior midfielder Alexander Vardaro, his second assist of the game. The Orange responded in the last seconds of the quarter to make the score 6–3 with a goal by first-year attacker Joey Spallina.


Penalties soon began to show their effect as the Tigers and the Orange traded pairs of goals to start the second quarter. Both of the Syracuse goals came from man-up situations as Spallina and fellow first-year attacker Finn Thomson each netted one.

Goals from Ringhofer and senior midfielder Jake Stevens kept the Tigers three goals back with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, but the Syracuse scoring was not done yet.

Spallina, the number one recruit in the national high school class of 2022, scored his third of the game with 9:06 left in the quarter to stretch the Orange lead to four.

Searching for an offensive spark, the Tigers dug deep into their bag of tricks on their next man-up opportunity. The Tigers ran a hidden-ball trick behind the net, which fooled the Syracuse defenders and left Stevens open for his second goal of the game on a perfect pass from senior attacker Weston Carpenter.

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After falling behind 10–6, the Tigers offense netted three straight goals from Vardaro, Mackesy, and sophomore midfielder Sean Cameron to pull within one goal of tying up the game. But the Orange responded to every Princeton run with one of their own, scoring two straight for a 12–9 lead going into halftime.

Face-offs and penalties were the root of the Tigers’ defensive problems in the first half.

“Not to take anything away from a very good Syracuse team, but [there were] too many fouls and not enough execution around the face-offs,” Madalon told The Daily Princetonian.

The Tigers lost the face-off battle 15–8 in the half, giving the Orange offense many more chances than the Tigers, leading to more goals. The Orange were also able to capitalize off man-up situations, scoring four of their 12 goals with an extra man.

Syracuse opened the scoring in the third quarter, as midfielder Cole Kirst found the back of the net for the second time of the day. Vardaro struck back to keep the Tigers within three, fighting through a Syracuse unnecessary roughness penalty to beat senior goalie Will Mark.

The Tigers could not capitalize on the ensuing man-up opportunity, and the scoring began to slow for the rest of the game.

Kirst’s third goal of the game increased the Orange lead to 15–11 with roughly five minutes left in the third quarter, as Spallina recorded an assist for his eighth point of the game.

Mackesy, the Tigers’ leading scorer on the season, scored a highlight goal to start a Tigers run. He snuck his shot past the goalie's inside shoulder from the left side, even though he was behind the goal, to get a hat trick for the day.

A difficult save by Gianforcaro gave Princeton the last shot in the quarter, and they did not waste it. Junior midfielder Tommy Barnds beat both the goalie and the clock with just six seconds left in the quarter off a pass from Ringhofer to bring the score to 15–13.

The Tigers benefitted in the third quarter from a 5–3 face-off advantage and headed into the final quarter full of momentum.

Again, face-offs played an essential role in the game. Syracuse won the opening face-off of the quarter, and Thomson scored the final goal of the game just 55 seconds later.

This loss for the Tigers makes it almost impossible for Princeton to make the NCAA tournament without an automatic bid from winning the Ivy League Tournament. However, the next three games against Dartmouth, Harvard, and No. 4 Cornell are an opportunity for the Tigers to gain quality wins and improve their confidence.

“We will shore up some individual and team defensive schemes this week and [are] excited for the next three,” Maladon said.

The Tigers head to Hanover next week to take on the Dartmouth Big Green (6–3, 1–2) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 15.

After upsets across the Ivy League on Saturday, the Tigers are in second place in the conference, tied with Harvard and behind Cornell. They need a win against the Big Green to keep in the top four and improve their chances of making it to the Ivy League tournament.

“We’re in a must-win mindset every day,” said Madalon. “We’re going to build momentum through great practice.”

Harrison Blank is a contributor to the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’

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