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No. 14 men’s lacrosse defense dominates Big Green en route to a 15–5 win

A man wearing a black and white jersey with a lacrosse stick in his hand attacks towards the goal on a grass field with the ball in the stick against a defender wearing a white and green jersey.
Junior standout attacker Coulter Mackesy led the Tigers with four goals on Saturday afternoon
Photo courtesy of @TigerLacrosse/X

After last week’s big win against Harvard, the No. 14 ranked Princeton Tigers (6–3 overall, 2–1 Ivy League) came into Saturday’s contest against the Dartmouth Big Green (3–6, 0–2) eager to get a winning streak underway. Led by an impressive defensive showing and four goals from junior standout attacker Coulter Mackesy, the Tigers cruised to a victory against Big Green, coming out on top 15–5. 

“It was a really great job by Coach Hirsch [Princeton defensive coordinator] and his group today,” head coach Matt Madalon told the Daily Princetonian. “We want to be a defensive team and win games from that end of the field. They had a great day as a unit. From the face-off unit to the defensive midfielders to the close defense to the goalie, they all had a good day today.”


After sophomore face-off Andrew McMeekin gave the Tigers the ball to start the contest, neither side found the back of the net for the opening four minutes. Mackesy opened the scoring with a right-handed shot. The junior standout has shown Tiger fans he can do it all, although many are used to seeing him score with his left. 

Shortly after, first-year attacker Nate Kabiri scored a wrap-around goal to make it 2–0 Princeton. Fellow first-year attacker Colin Burns extended Princeton’s lead with a jump shot, putting the Tigers ahead 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. Playing alongside Mackesy in attack, the two rookies have been wreaking havoc for opposing defenses all season long, combining for 40 goals in the nine Tiger games thus far. 

“Colin, Nate, and I have been building our chemistry since the fall and continue to as the season goes on,” Mackesy noted. “More importantly, we’ve built great chemistry off the field, spending time with each other and becoming great friends.”

After Dartmouth got on the board to start the second quarter, the Tigers quickly responded as McMeekin turned his face-off win into a goal for the Tigers, bringing the crowd to its feet. After not scoring his entire rookie year and the first five games of this season’s campaign, McMeekin has scored one goal a game for the last four games.


Dartmouth responded with a goal shortly after to cut the deficit to just two goals. However, this was the last goal the Big Green scored for a staggering 37 minutes of game time and over an hour of real-time. The next two goals came courtesy of first-year midfielder Tucker Wade who finished remarkably, and Kabiri who capitalized off a man-up opportunity after a Big Green slashing penalty. After successfully holding off Dartmouth’s lone man-up opportunity of the game, a holding penalty allowed senior midfielder Tommy Barnds to get his fourth goal of the season and put Princeton up 7–2 at the half. 

On Alumni Day at Sherrard Field, halftime brought an opportunity to honor Bill Tierney, Princeton’s former esteemed lacrosse head coach, who is transitioning to coaching at the professional level with the Waterdogs of the Premier Lacrosse League. Tierney’s remarkable legacy and contributions to the sport were celebrated, highlighting his significant impact on national and regional lacrosse. He won six national championships with the Tigers. The head coaching position for the Tigers will now be known as “The William G. Tierney P’01 P’02 Head Coach of Men's Lacrosse at Princeton.”

The third quarter saw Princeton maintain their momentum, with Mackesy securing a hat-trick and Burns adding his second goal of the game. The defense stayed strong, preventing Dartmouth from scoring throughout the quarter.

One of the most impressive statistics of the season has been Burns and Kabiri's ability to keep the ball away from opposition. Kabiri has just seven turnovers on the season while Burns has nine.

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As the game progressed into the fourth quarter, Princeton dominated, with junior midfielder Sean Cameron, senior attacker Lukas Stanat, and sophomore midfielder Quinn Krammer all scoring. Despite Dartmouth's efforts to narrow the deficit, Princeton's relentless offense and solid defense proved too much to overcome. The impressive trio of Tiger rookies — Wade, Kabiri, and Burns — finished with two goals a piece. Moreover, Kabiri now has 24 goals on the season — tied for the fourth most ever by a first-year at Princeton.

“They’re (the attack) doing a really nice job,” Madalon added. “Today was nice because they all scored in different ways. It was a good effort from those guys and they’re continuing to get better every day. Hopefully, they have their best lacrosse ahead of them.”

In the end, Princeton emerged victorious with a 15–5 win over Dartmouth, reaffirming their status as a force to be reckoned with in collegiate lacrosse. The Tiger defense forced nine Big Green turnovers, winning 13 face-offs and 31 ground balls en route to the comfortable home win. Senior goalie Michael Gianforcaro had 14 saves to lead the defense. His near 88 percent save percentage on Saturday afternoon was his career best in a single game. 

After a tough loss to the No. 13 ranked Cornell Big Red (5–3, 2–1) two weeks ago, the Tigers have bounced back with two straight wins and are now in a three-way tie for second place in the league. 

Madalon’s squad will be back in action tomorrow night at home against Lehigh University (4–5, 2–2 Patriot League) in a non-conference game. The Mountain Hawks are 0–3 this season against ranked opponents but have put up a fight in all three of those matches. The Tigers cannot overlook the Mountain Hawks or the comfortable Tuesday night contest can quickly turn into an uncomfortable match at Sherrerd Field. Following the game, Princeton will have a long and much-needed break before returning to Ivy League play on April 13th against Brown (1–8, 0–2).

“April is playoff lacrosse and we know how important each game is,” Mackesy told the ‘Prince.’ “We still haven’t shown our best lacrosse yet and can’t wait to peak at the right time down the stretch. That all starts with a tough Lehigh opponent on Tuesday.”

Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate Sports editor for the ‘Prince.’

Tyler Duran is a Sports contributor for the ‘Prince.’

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