Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/6/22
From Press Releases
Matt Madalon stopped smiling long enough to answer the question. He’d been smiling since the clock at Georgetown’s Cooper Field read all zeroes – and not before it.
His Princeton men’s lacrosse team had just knocked off the No. 3 team in the country, Georgetown, on Saturday. The final score was 10-8, in front of a full house of 2,500 on a 60-degree afternoon on which the weather and the intensity suggested May more than March. If the head coach didn’t relax until it was 0:00, even the most confident Tiger fan didn’t exhale until maybe 30 seconds earlier.
And now he was asked to describe the win, a huge step forward for his young and rebuilt team.
“This was a great program win,” he said.
He was right on all counts. It was a great program win in terms of what it means for his program, and it was a great program win for the way pretty much everyone in the surprise Orange jerseys contributed.
There was Alex Slusher, who had five of the team’s 10 goals. There was Erik Peters, who again was great, with 16 more saves while allowing only eight. Sam English had three goals of his own, and an assist. Jake Stevens scored a huge one.
Really, though, this was a game won by Princeton’s defense, and more specifically by a bunch of program guys whose names might be unfamiliar on the national scene but whose impact all afternoon had been dramatic.
Maybe the best player on the field for Princeton was senior longstick midfielder Andrew Song, who had four of Princeton’s program-record 17 caused turnovers – and this was without All-American George Baughan (Springfield-Montco), out with an injury. He epitomized the theme of the day when in the third quarter he contested a ball during what seemed like a hold in play while both teams subbed, instead stripping the ball and gaining possession again for the Tigers.
Song was great, but he was not the only one. Pace Billings was everywhere, with an assist, a caused turnover and a ground ball but mostly with lockdown defense on Georgetown’s Connor Morin, who was held without a goal or assist. Colin Mulshine made his first career start on D in Baughan’s place and was another big presence. Defenseman Ben Finlay had four more caused turnovers of his own while holding his man to only one assist.
Princeton’s shortstick D middies were outstanding. Luke Crimmins, moved to the position only three weeks ago, had his best game as a Tiger, with two caused turnovers, five ground balls and a huge goal in transition after Song had caused another turnover.
For the Hoyas, standout senior faceoff specialist James Reilly (Conestoga) won 16 of 22 draws and had 11 groundballs.
In all, 10 different Tigers caused at least one turnover.
Georgetown scored on the first possession of the day, but the Tiger defense swarmed on every possession. Princeton would tie it on English’s first and then lead 3-1 on a pair of Slusher scores, and when Slusher scored his third, four minutes into the second, Princeton had a 4-3 lead and the Hoyas would never equal it again.
Not that they would go quietly, of course. Georgetown twice would cut it to one in the second half, at 7-6 and 8-7, but Peters made every huge save he needed down the stretch and Slusher finished things off with two late goals.
Slusher, seemingly as veteran a player as the Tigers have, was spot on with what he had to say afterwards.
“I’m a junior and I’ve spent a lot of time in the locker room,” he said. “But that was only my ninth game.”
The win improved Princeton to 3-1, with the only loss to No. 1 Maryland. Next up is unbeaten Rutgers, who was No. 4 this week and figures to move into Georgetown’s spot.
Princeton? The Tigers were unranked in the preseason and No. 18 this week. They too figure to move up. The ranking, just like the program, appears to be on the rise.