Overtime loss ends men’s lacrosse season

The men’s lacrosse team began its season with two tough losses on the road and ended with another May 13 in a first-round NCAA playoff game in Washington, D.C. Georgetown’s Brendan Cannon scored 31 seconds into overtime to give the Hoyas a 9–8 win over Princeton.

“We could never seem to win the big game,” coach Bill Tierney said afterward. “We were sure close, and today was another example of that.” The loss was the third in a one-goal game this year for the Tigers, the most in Tierney’s 20 years as head coach.

The game bore an uncanny similarity to Princeton’s 7–6 losses to Johns Hopkins and Virginia in March. In each contest, the Tigers jumped out to an early two-goal lead only to fall behind by a goal in the second half, rally to tie, and surrender the winner after missing chances of their own.

In the Georgetown game, Princeton opened well, taking a 3–1 lead before Georgetown rallied for a 4–4 tie at halftime.

The Hoyas seized control in an eventful third quarter. After denying Georgetown on a man-up opportunity, Princeton goalie Alex Hewit ’08 ran into a double team at midfield and lost the ball out of bounds, an error on which the Hoyas capitalized with a goal by Andrew Brancaccio. In the loose-ball scrum on the ensuing faceoff, Charlie Kolkin ’09 was whistled for a slashing penalty, and Georgetown cashed in with a man-up goal. The Tigers’ misfortune continued when defenseman John Bennett ’07 broke his stick on the next possession, leading to a goal that put the Hoyas up 7–4.

Princeton regrouped when Peter Trombino ’07 scored his second goal of the day on an assist from Scott Sowanick ’07. Whitney Hayes ’07 then fed Mark Kovler ’09 and Rob Engelke ’10 in quick succession to tie the score. But with time winding down in the third quarter, Georgetown regained the lead on a goal by Craig Dowd from 15 yards out.

Dowd’s goal was key, according to Tierney. “We had the momentum, and I thought we might be off and running at that point,” he said. “That goal turned things around again.”

Sowanick tied the game on another assist from Hayes two minutes into the fourth quarter, and then the goalies took over. After making only two saves in the game’s first 45 minutes, Georgetown’s Miles Kass stuffed Hayes, Bob Schneider ’08, and Kovler to preserve the tie. Hewit answered with two saves of his own during a four-minute Hoya possession, the second of which gave the Tigers the ball with less than three minutes left in regulation. Princeton held the ball for a last shot that never came, as Georgetown pressured the Tigers into a turnover with time running out. The Hoyas won the faceoff to start overtime and got the ball to Cannon, who scored the game-winner.

The goal ended a season in which Princeton’s early losses put immense pressure on the Tigers to win their remaining games to secure a playoff spot. The team responded by going 9–1 in its last 10 games, losing only at undefeated Cornell, the nation’s top-ranked squad. Princeton excelled on defense, holding opponents to 6.21 goals a game, the fewest in Division I.