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Staff Picks: Men’s Lacrosse vs. Yale

Man in white jersey shoots lacrosse ball.
The Tigers beat Penn 15–10 last Saturday to keep their season alive, but they’ll have to beat the Bulldogs this weekend to secure their spot in the Ivy League Tournament.
Photo Courtesy of @TigerLacrosse / X

No. 13 men’s lacrosse (8–4 overall, 3–2 Ivy League) kept their season alive last week by taking down the then No. 13 ranked Penn Quakers 15–10 at Sherrerd Field. 

The Tigers will get little rest, however, as they will be traveling up I-95 to New Haven, Conn. on Saturday to face off with the No. 9 Yale Bulldogs, currently the best team in the Ivy League tied with Cornell. 

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The Tigers defense will look to continue its success from last week, but they will have to deal with Yale attacker Matt Brandau, who leads the nation with 94 points — 18 more than the next closest player. The Tigers beat the Bulldogs twice last year when junior attacker Coulter Mackesy had ten goals combined, so expect the Bulldogs to focus on him. A Princeton win would send them to the Ivy League tournament and keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, but a loss would see the Tigers’ fate depend on Harvard taking down Brown.

Much like last week, the Tigers’ season hangs in the balance. As they say: 60 minutes for the rest of your lives.

Staff Sports writer JP Ohl ’26, Sports contributor Lily Pampolina ’27, and Sports contributor James McGonigle ’27 offered their picks for this weekend’s contest.

Princeton 13, Yale 10 — JP Ohl, Staff Sports Writer 

After a tumultuous season, the Princeton Tigers will prowl into New Haven for a season finale against Yale, the current best team in the Ivy League. After a loss to Brown earlier this month, an at-large bid is likely off of the table. The Tigers will need to win three straight and get the conference’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament.

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Head coach Matt Madalon’s crew are no strangers to high-pressure situations. Just last year, the Tigers rattled off two wins against Penn and Yale in the Ivy Tournament to clinch an NCAA bid. There is no doubt of the team’s talent and skill, but can the Tigers string together three near-perfect games? Inconsistency has pilfered a rather successful season, can the Tigers turn the tables and seize fate with their own hands on Saturday afternoon? If not, Brown has the chance to halt the Tigers season with a win over a lackluster Harvard squad. 

The Tigers understand the gravity of the circumstances. Battle-tested veterans such as junior attacker Coulter Mackesy, sophomore face-off Andrew McMeekin, senior goalie Michael Gianforcaro, and junior defenseman Colin Mulshine are abundant on the field. 

The Tigers will win in New Haven this Saturday and live to fight another day. Expect another blockbuster game from Gianforcaro as he will put his body on the line in every way to secure a win. With a win, a destined Yale vs. Princeton rematch in the first round of the Ivy tournament will occur. It's safe to say Ivy Madness has arrived. 

Princeton 13, Yale 11 — Lily Pampolina, Sports Contributor 

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With a win, they’re in the Ivy League tournament. With a loss, it’s up to fate. This motivation is what will push Princeton past Yale in this weekend’s matchup.

Coming off of a strong showing against Penn last weekend, the Tigers must maintain their momentum against a tough Yale team. Currently, Yale sits atop the Ivy League standings, tied in record with Cornell. The Bulldogs boast two main scorers, Matt Brandau and David Anderson, who have 41 and 35 goals apiece. The Tigers’ defensive front will have to remain disciplined to prevent Yale’s attackers from taking shots in the offensive third. Senior goalie Michael Gianforcaro will not only be key to making stops, but for commanding the defense around him. 

Princeton, on the other hand, will need to take shots. Against Penn, the Tigers were successful offensively in large part due to their strong connection between the midfield and the attack — four of their 15 goals were from a midfielder to an attacker in transition, or vice versa. Senior veteran attacker Coulter Mackesy will be key to setting Princeton’s offensive pace, with help from midfielders like John Dunphey and Chad Palumbo who can net goals of their own.

Ultimately the game will be a battle between two offensive powerhouses, and the winner will be determined by which defense can force more stops. If Princeton can get scoring started early on in the game, they should be able to come out on top.

Princeton 15, Yale 14 — Joe McGonigle, Sports Contributor

The Tigers are back in the win column after last weekend’s huge 15–10 win against Penn which showcased Princeton’s high-powered offense. The highlight of the game was, without a doubt, senior goalie Michael Gianforcaro’s backhanded goal on an end-to-end run which sealed the game for the Tigers. 

Given last week’s momentum-shifting win, the Tigers will add to their winning streak this weekend against Yale. Crucial to their success will be first-year Nate Kabiri. Kabiri has the sixth most goals per game in the Ivy League with 2.42. Kabiri, who netted two goals alongside three assists in Princeton’s win against Penn will need to have a similarly impressive performance for the Tigers to win. Given his consistency throughout the season, I bet he will. Gianforcaro, who has the second-best saves percentage in the Ivy League with .563, will also need to put together another strong performance to add to Princeton’s winning streak and propel them to an Ivy League playoffs berth. 

Yale, however, will be no easy opponent. The Bulldogs sit atop the Ivy League standings and are currently riding the high of an impressive seven-game winning streak. The Tigers will have their hands full with Yale’s Matt Brandau, who currently leads the Ivy League in total points.

Despite Yale’s talent, I believe that Princeton’s young offensive talent alongside Gianforcaro’s recent momentum will prove to be just too much for Yale in this crucial matchup. 

JP Ohl is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’

Lily Pampolina is a Sports contributor and contributing Audience creator for the ‘Prince.’

Joe McGonigle is a Sports contributor for the ‘Prince.’

Please send any corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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