PU men’s lacrosse improves despite second straight loss

Offense tests Virginia for more competitive Tigers

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   Make no mistake about it, Bill Tierney wants to win every game his Princeton University men’s lacrosse team plays.
   But in some situations — like Saturday’s 12-10 loss to Virginia — losses are a little easier to deal with.
   ”One thing I’ve learned at Princeton is that you never want to accept defeat and say it is OK, because it’s not,” said Tierney, whose team fell to 1-2 with the loss to the No. 2 ranked Cavaliers. “It is not OK that we lost this game. But I will say this, I don’t know how many hours are in a week, but a lot of hours ago, this is one different lacrosse team than the one that showed up last week.
   ”I’m so proud of their effort and what they did out there today. I think we learned a lot of things about ourselves out there today.”
   A week earlier the Tigers were overmatched in falling behind then No. 1 Johns Hopkins, 10-1, at halftime. Princeton went on to lose that game, 14-9. On Saturday, they played toe to toe with Virginia for just about the full 60 minutes in a steady rain. It was a 4-0 spurt by the Cavs in the opening minutes of the second half that made the difference.
   ”There were some positive things,” said Tierney, whose team will host a Hofstra team on Saturday that upset Johns Hopkins this past weekend. “We helped each other on defense. But we gave up far too many goals on defense again and I just can’t figure that out. For a team that has five of their top six defensive players back, giving up 12s and 14s, I can’t figure it out.
   ”But we won a lot of face-offs. Alex Berg has been phenomenal so far this year against some good teams. I just thought it was the intangibles. We scored nine against Hopkins last week and had one at halftime. I think this team can be a good offensive team. I just don’t understand what is going on at the defensive end. We just have to keep working on it. But the real positive was we played almost 60 minutes today and we have not done that. It was better, but clearly not enough yet.”
   Virginia jumped on top, 2-0, on Saturday before Princeton scored a pair of goals of its own — by freshmen Chris McBride and Jack McBride — to even the score. The teams traded goals the rest of the half, with Virginia taking a 6-5 lead at halftime.
   ”From the start we were more intense and came ready to play,” said Mark Kovler, who finished with four goals for the Tigers. “Then we let up in the second half. I think we played with a lot more confidence today. But no matter how much better we played than last week, this one hurts just as much or worse.”
   When Virginia scored four times within a one minute, 38 second span at the start of the third quarter, the Tigers found themselves in a 10-5 hole. But they scored five of the next seven goals and had the ball trailing by two goals with less than two minutes left. But in the end, time ran out on the Tigers.
   ”There were one or two I think I should have had,” Princeton goalie Alex Hewitt said of the 4-0 Cavalier run in the third quarter. “And maybe if I stop them they don’t come down and get another chance. We didn’t do our job in that minute, thirty. But after that we buckled down and did a better job and maybe gave up two goals the rest of the way.
   ”The offense is doing its job. I think I have to play better for this defense to be a top defense in the country. From last week to this week we worked hard all week. The team defense was better. Whatever it was, we just have to keep working and get better.”
   Tierney saw improvement over the effort of a week earlier. But as the Tigers prepare to face Hofstra, there is still work to be done.