A 33-minute scoring drought and 22 Yale turnovers could not stop the No. 19 men’s lacrosse team from defeating Princeton for the first time since 2005 in New Jersey on Saturday. The Bulldogs (5–1, 1–1 Ivy) won in dramatic fashion, as Brandon Mangan’s ’14 scorching shot from a bad angle, 20+ feet from the goal, beat All-American goalie Tyler Fiorito 33 seconds into overtime to give Yale an 8–7 victory.
With five minutes left in the third quarter, Yale trailed 6–2, with Princeton (1–5, 0–2) dominating possession and continuing to pressure goalie John Falcone ’11. But a gorgeous quick stick by attackman Matt Gibson ’12 off of a feed from Mark Dobrosky ’12 sparked a 5–1 rally in the last third of the game. Attackman Deron Dempster ’13 finished the comeback when his goal tied the game at 7 with 1:03 left in regulation.
“Getting a win against Princeton, regardless of their current record, is great just because of the rivalry that exists between our two schools and how close the games have been recently,” Falcone said.
Saturday’s game appeared very similar to last May’s Ivy League tournament semi-final against Princeton, a 7-6 Yale loss that ruined any NCAA Tournament hopes for the Bulldogs. In that defensive battle, the Bulldogs led by a single goal at the end of the first quarter, before the Tigers took control in the middle half of the game and fought off a late four-goal comeback by the Elis to win.
This time around, Yale took a 2–1 lead nearly seven minutes into the first quarter on a point blank shot by Brian Douglass ’11 that beat Fiorito high. But Princeton’s stingy defense and great control on offense overwhelmed a Yale team that failed to put pressure on the Princeton goal for most of the game.
For a Princeton team that has suffered from the injuries of All-American attackman Jack McBride, starting defenseman Rob Castelo and Ivy League Rookie of the Year Mike Chanenchuk (Chanenchuk has since withdrawn from Princeton) this season, things seemed to be working out heading into the locker room with a 5–2 lead at the half. Chris McBride stepped up in his cousin’s absence, scoring two first half goals that helped the Tigers to their fifth 3+ goal lead in their first six games.
“Princeton will always be a great team, so they’ll always be a tough team to beat,” Douglass said. “Everyone [in the Ivy League] is good and has to be respected.”
Princeton came out firing again in the third quarter, as attackman Forrest Sonnenfeldt buried one past Falcone with 7:36 left in the period. But the Bulldogs bounced back, out-working and out-hustling their opponents to 9-6 advantages on ground balls and forcing three key turnovers in the third.
Gutsy play by Falcone and Yale’s defense gave the Elis offensive midfield and attack room to work toward the end of the quarter, as they charged back with three goals in four minutes, beginning with Gibson’s fifth goal for the season. Trailing 6–4, Princeton’s star defenseman Chad Wiedmaier committed his sixth penalty on the year. Yale’s man-up offense rose to the occasion, with Matt Miller ’12 scoring to cut Princeton’s lead to 6–5.
“Once again, our coach’s put together an exceptional defensive game plan and we executed it well,” Falcone said. “Like always our long-sticks played with outstanding effort and got after the tough ground balls on the Princeton AstroTurf.”
Yale never let up, scoring first in the fourth on a great combo from middie Greg Mahony ’12 to Dempster to tie the game at 6-6 with 9 minutes to play. Princeton, showing just the slightest bounce in their step, ended a 17:21 scoreless streak and regained the lead on Sonnenfeldt’s second goal, with 5:15 left to play.
Up 7–6, Princeton continued to pressure, while Yale nearly let the game slip away through an off-sides mishap at midfield that thwarted the Bulldogs’ hopes in transition with three minutes left to play. Yet, true to his form, Falcone shifted the momentum by knocking Princeton’s Tom Schreiber out of bounds and giving Yale possession. On the ensuing possession, Dempster finished his second goal of the quarter on a feed from Gibson to tie the game 7–7. The Tigers bit back, as Sonnenfeldt attempted to take the team on his back on a dangerous shot with 10 seconds left, but Falcone shut the door and sent the game into overtime.
“To come back from being down 6–2 took a lot of character,” Douglass said. “It was a huge step forward for us to do that.”
Princeton possessed the ball first in the OT, but the Tigers’ Bobby Lucas quickly lost the ball, which Gibson scooped up, enabling Coach Andy Shay to call a timeout. Fresh out of the huddle, the ball ended up in Mangan’s stick by the restraining line. In what sometimes would be deemed a freshman mistake, the midfielder/attackman took a long-range shot on Yale’s first possession. But it paid off, as the shot made its way through two defenders and a surprised Fiorito to win the game for the Bulldogs.
“I’m not really sure what I was thinking by shooting from that far out with no angle,” Mangan said. “But I’m really happy I did.”
The Bulldogs will next travel to Penn (4–3, 1–1) to face the Quakers on Friday afternoon.