The Yale’s men’s lacrosse team has high hopes of achieving a victory over Princeton in the Tigers’ Ivy opener, as it did last year, but this year the Elis will have to seek victory on the Tigers’ turf.
Saturday, the Bulldogs (3-4, 0-2 Ivy) face No. 6 Princeton (4-2, 0-0) in Princeton, N.J. Last year, the Bulldogs beat the then-No.13 Tigers, 9-8, at Yale. The Elis are coming off a strong win against Hartford, which has helped them pick up momentum after falling to two Ivy teams earlier in the season, and they hope to maintain their current energy going into Saturday’s game. Since 1978, Princeton has always faced the Bulldogs for its first Ivy game of the season.
“Ever since I was a freshman, Princeton has been an exciting game to go to and play in,” faceoff man Dan Kallaugher ’06 said. “We remember how much fun last year’s game was and how we won. We want to replicate that game and improve on last year’s game.”
Kallaugher said he thinks the Tigers are stronger than they were last year. They have all the threatening players returning in addition to new freshmen, and he said Princeton’s team is meshing well overall.
Because of that, the Elis will have to come with their “A” game.
“We want to try to execute our offense,” midfielder Dan Brillman ’06 said. “We want to win the ground ball battle and win the faceoffs to dominate the possession.”
For the Bulldogs to win in this game, leading scorer Brillman will have to avoid being covered and shut out from scoring as he was against No. 2 Cornell last weekend.
Last year against Princeton, Kallaugher, then the No. 2 faceoff man in the country, won 17 of 20 faceoffs, including all 13 in the final three quarters. This season Kallaugher has won 88 out of 139 faceoffs, while Princeton’s Alex Berg has won 35 out of 78. Yale has won more than 63 percent of faceoffs while Princeton has only won 49 percent.
“Princeton claims to have gotten in blue-chip faceoff recruits. They have never amounted to being top players,” Kallaugher said. “Their faceoff unit is the weakest spot on their team. We’ll really want to capitalize on them.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs have improved since last year’s campaign but still need to focus on forcing turnovers, getting the loose balls and blocking shots. Although defenseman Gray Eklund ’06 said the Elis have a strong core defense, the team will have to work hard to fend off Princeton’s lead attackmen, juniors Peter Trombino and Scott Sowanick, who are tied for the team lead in points.
“They’re loaded from top to bottom,” Eklund said.
As for Princeton’s defense, Dan Cocoziello, the first defenseman to ever win Ivy League Rookie of the Year, is a player to look out for. The Tigers’ goalie, Alex Hewitt, leads Division I in save percentage and is third in goals-against-average.
“We’re going to have to have really good shoots because their goalie is excellent,” Yale head coach Andy Shay said. “The best defender on their field is the goalie. We’re going down there to win. I think that we’re pretty confident about what we can do.”
Eklund said the team has been practicing hard in preparation for Saturday’s game.
“We go into this game knowing Princeton is a tough team,” Eklund said. “We’ve been trying to have focused and intense practices. We’re at the point now where we’re pretty confident that if we go into the game with a lot of effort, we’ll be able to play with this team, although they might be more talented.”