(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Athletics)
Sam English received the feed from Alexander Vardaro up top, threw a little hitch, got around the Terriers’ short-stick defender, and took it to the rack to get Princeton on the board first.
Just under three minutes later, the Tigers turned a failed Boston U. clear into a goal as Chris Brown found a wide-open Christian Ronda in the heart of the Terriers’ defense for a score on the doorstep to make it a 2-0 ball game.
Those opening sequences were very much indicative of what was to come as Princeton defeated the Boston U. Terriers 12-5 to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals. It marks the first NCAA Tournament win for the Tigers since 2009, which was Bill Tierney’s final season at the helm.
Princeton’s victory also ends what was a two-game losing streak and get them their first win in nearly a month. The Tigers fell 18-15 at home against Cornell two weeks ago in their season finale, which kept them out of the Ivy League Tournament. They lost at Harvard the week prior.
English got his second goal of the day during the second quarter, again from up top, as he ripped past the Terrier pole and put it stick-side high past Matt Garber. He ended the day with a hat trick, putting home his third on an open net, off of a restart from behind, late in the final frame. A two-way threat, he also caused three turnovers and grabbed four ground balls.
Alex Slusher also ended the day with a hat trick. He got his first late in the first quarter, cashing in on a Chris Brown feed, before putting home two more during the second frame.
All in all, Princeton’s starting six combined for 11 goals. Seven of those scores came from that first midfield line of English, Ronda, and Alex Vardaro. Coulter Mackesy had one goal on the day to give that starting attack unit a combined four goals, along with Slusher’s hat trick.
The quarterback and orchestrator of much of the Tigers’ offensive success was Chris Brown. Living up to his reputation as a top-10 leader in assists per game, Brown had five helpers on the day. Three of those came in the third quarter as he found Slusher and Ronda for scores early on in the frame before assisting Slusher once more on a man-down score late in the the third.
While the Tigers had themselves a day when it comes to producing on the offensive end, it was their efforts at the faceoff dot, on the ride, and on defense that held off the Terriers and allowed Princeton to jump out to that 4-0 lead and hold on through the finish line.
Tyler Sandavol went 15-for-18 (83%) at the faceoff dot while Erik Peters made 15 saves in cage with a 75% save percentage. The Tigers’ starting close defense of George Baughn, Ben Finaly, and Colin Mulshine combined for three caused turnovers and held the Boston U. starting attack line of Louis Perfetto, Vince D’Alto, and Timmy Ley off the scoreboard and with goose eggs on the stat sheet.
Luke Crimmins (3CT,2GB) and LSM Pace Billings (2CT,1GB.1G) also made big impacts as poles. Jake Stevens (1CT,5GB) and Beau Pederson (5GB) were crucial at that defensive midfield spot.
Princeton held Boston U. to a 22-of-24 mark in the clearing game (6-of-8 in the first quarter). They also won the ground ball battle 50-29 and caused 15 of the Terriers’ 20 turnovers.
After a first quarter in which the Terriers were blanked and didn’t get a shot off until the 4:57 mark, Tommy Bourque dodged down the alley and took advance of a no-slide Princeton defense and finally broke the ice for Boston U. Bourque found the net twice more over the course of the game to led the way for the Terriers with a hat trick.
Christian Quadriano and Robert Gallop each had one goal for the Terriers while Thomas Niedringhaus and Jett Dziama each dished out one assist. Roy Meyer had a strong game with four caused turnovers and six ground balls to lead the way for that Boston U. defense.
Quadriano ‘s lone goal came late in the second quarter to help cut the Princeton lead to 6-2 at the break. The Terriers’ would never be able to pull within four any other time after, being outscored 6-3 in the final two frames to close out the contest.