One to Shout About
Big Green Roars Back, Stuns Ninth-Ranked Princeton
Dartmouth College men’s lacrosse players celebrate after upsetting No. 9 Princeton yesterday at Scully-Fahey Field. The 10-9 triumph was just the Big Green’s second victory in the teams’ last 10 meetings and was secured on a goal by Cam Lee (9) with 4:40 to play. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth midfielder Nikki Dysenchuk celebrates a fourth-quarter goal yesterday. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth College lacrosse goaltender Bernie Susskind is a split second late on a Princeton goal yesterday, but the Big Green had the last laugh,
rallying from a 3-0 deficit for a 10-9 upset of the No. 9 Tigers. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth College men's lacrosse coach Andy Towers gives attackman Mike Olentine directions during a time out yesterday against Princeton. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — Cam Lee’s black mouthguard is emblazoned with white teeth and a pair of fangs. Yesterday, the Dartmouth College men’s lacrosse player took a lethal bite out of visiting Princeton, scoring the winning goal with 4:40 remaining in the Big Green’s 10-9 upset of the No. 9 Tigers at Scully-Fahey Field.
Shooting on the run and from the right side, the big freshman cranked a blazing shot past goaltender Matt O’Connor that gave his team its first victory over Princeton since 2008 and only its second triumph in the series’ last 10 games. Dartmouth has won just eight of 60 contests against the Tigers since the schools began playing each other in 1953.
“This has been a long time coming and it all came together today,” said defenseman Pat Flynn. “Princeton’s one of the best teams in the whole country, but we played the best game we’ve played all season. I can’t even tell you how happy I am right now that our program can make such a statement to the lacrosse world.”
Dartmouth improved to 3-8 overall and 1-3 in Ivy League play and snapped a six-game losing streak. Princeton, which has suffered a trio of one-goal losses to ranked teams, fell to 8-4 and 2-2. The upset was even more startling because the Big Green had turned in an utterly lackluster performance four days earlier during a last-second loss to visiting Hartford.
“It was a heartbreaker and we sat in the locker room for 30 minutes afterward and asked why what we’re doing in practice wasn’t translating to games,” said Flynn, a senior co-captain. “It was time for us to take ownership of what we do. Today, if a kid messed up, he made a play at the other end.”
Dartmouth began the week averaging just 8.1 goals per game, ranking it 57th out of 63 NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse teams. When Princeton, averaging 12.5 goals per game and ranked eighth in that category, took a 3-0 lead after nine minutes, the situation didn’t look good for the Big Green.
The hosts rallied for a 4-4 tie before trailing 7-5 at halftime and 8-5 midway through the third quarter. Dartmouth defenseman Eric Clemmenson fired up most in an announced crowd of 874, however, when he made a run upfield and scored with his six-foot pole. Fewer than two minutes later, teammate Brendan Rotanz unloaded a submarine shot that scorched the artificial turf before beating O’Connor.
Attackman Adam Fishman scored for an 8-8 tie six minutes into the fourth quarter, then committed a slashing penalty while riding a clear that led to a Princeton goal and a 9-8 lead with seven minutes to play.
Nikki Dysenchuk answered for Dartmouth with 5:09 remaining, setting the stage for Lee’s winning tally 29 seconds later. Despite frantic pressure put on by the Tigers in the closing minutes, the Big Green held on behind goaltender Bernie Susskind, who finished with 10 saves, several from point-blank range.
Dartmouth lost 21-6 to Princeton in New Jersey last year and had scored 10 or more goals just three times this season, while the Tigers had done it in every game. The Big Green somehow triumphed despite winning just 7-of-23 faceoffs, going 1-of-4 on man-up opportunities and losing the ground ball battle, 29-19.
“I’m just glad to see the sacrifices this team has made since practice in the fall get rewarded,” said fourth-year Dartmouth coach Andy Towers. “Even though we’ve had a tough run and some frustrating losses, I’ve never been worried about this team quitting. To have that level of commitment to each other be validated is what’s great about this win.”
The result maintains Dartmouth’s hopes for a berth in the fourth annual Ivy League postseason tournament, a gathering of the Ancient Eight’s top four finishers during the regular season. The event’s victor earns a berth in the 16-team national playoffs, but no squad with fewer than three league victories has ever reached the Ivy semifinals.
“Today doesn’t mean anything unless we beat Penn next weekend, another ranked team,” said Flynn, who has enjoyed only five victories during 22 league games in his four seasons. “We need to build on this rather than just be content with this. If we don’t bring our ‘A’ game, we’re going to get stomped.”
Said Towers: “I’m happy for the seniors, who for three years, have gotten beaten down by Princeton. While the rest of the world doubted this was a possibility, we felt confident that our best performance over four quarters would let us compete with anyone. You saw that today.”
Junior attackman Mike Olentine had three goals for Dartmouth and Chris Costabile, Fishman, Dysenchuk, Rotanz, Lee, Clemmenson and Phil Hession also scored.
The Big Green challenges No. 16 Pennsylvania (6-4, 2-3) on Saturday afternoon at Philadelphia’s Franklin Field, visits Holy Cross (6-6) for a nonconference game three days later and concludes the regular season by hosting Brown (5-5, 1-3) on April 27.
Notes: Olentine hails from Princeton, N.J. … Dartmouth picked up its first defeat of a ranked team since it beat Colgate to begin last season. … Yesterday’s game was the first between the teams in Hanover since 2008. The 2011 game was played in Foxborough, Mass. … Dartmouth continued to play without standout attackman Adam Hull, who was one of its best players before being injured earlier this spring. ... For the second time this season, a visiting team brought a radio broadcaster to the Scully-Fahey Field press box. Florida’s women’s team was the other. … Susskind’s younger brother, Max, is a freshman midfielder for the Tigers who has played in one game. … Princeton coach Chris Bates is a 1990 Dartmouth graduate who played attack for the Big Green.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.