Princeton Lacrosse Routs Dartmouth

Sunday, April 12, 2015
Hanover — Old McDonald had a field day, not a farm, Saturday during the Dartmouth College men’s lacrosse team’s 16-5 loss to No. 14 Princeton. The Ivy League clash served as yet another platform for the offensive skills of Tiger Mike McDonald, who piled up five goals and added an assist against an overmatched Big Green defense.

“We had a very tough time with him and he was a huge difference in the game,” Dartmouth midfielder Phil Hession said. “Our plan was to try not to slide to him too much because he plays so well with his head up. If you slide, he moves the ball to that spot immediately. But we didn’t slide and he just posted up, shot and scored.”

McDonald, an attackman from Ontario, entered the contest second in the Ivies in goals (3.11) and points (5.33) per game. Nationally, he was sixth and fourth among Division I players in those categories and he showed his hosts no mercy. Poised and powerful, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior casually moved into smaller defenders, using his back, backside and shoulders to force them to retreat before making a few changes of direction and flinging the ball into the cage from sharp angles.

“What a day today for eight,” said first-year Dartmouth coach Brendan Callahan, referring to McDonald’s jersey number. “A lot of those spots he scored from are ones you feel comfortable with as a defensive coach. You give most guys four or five shots from there and maybe they get one goal. He had five today and that was even after halftime, when we talked about double-teaming him. But we couldn’t get to him before the ball went in the net.”

Dartmouth, which fell to 3-6 overall and 1-3 in league play, also hurt itself. Callahan and his assistants have largely eliminated the throw-and-catch and turnover problems that plagued their team’s recent predecessors, but the Big Green reverted to its old ways somewhat, committing 21 turnovers while forcing only 14.

“I wouldn’t say we went back to our old mentality, but your stick skills get worse as a function of your offense not executing its plan,” said Hession, part of last spring’s team that went 2-10 overall and 0-6 in the Ivies. “They gave us some issues, especially once they got a lead and we rushed things to try and get back in the game. We didn’t move their defense as much and got frustrated and turned the ball over.”

The third quarter was crucial to the outcome. Dartmouth trailed, 5-3, at the break but had two careless turnovers and surrendered a goal in the two minutes and 33 seconds following intermission. Princeton tallied to go up, 6-3, and the hosts fouled scorer Will Rotatori to boot. The Big Green was down, 12-4, by quarter’s end, losing its third consecutive game and being outscored by more than 10 goals for the first time since a 20-5 thumping at Notre Dame in the season’s second contest.

“They shot really well in the second half and we didn’t have the greatest 1-on-1 defensive day,” Hession said. “They have some good dodgers and we missed some slides and then the game got out of control.”

There’s no doubt Princeton (7-4, 3-1) is one of the country’s better offensive teams. It was also clear that Dartmouth goaltender Blair Friedensohn, prone to performance peaks and valleys, had tumbled into one of the latter Saturday. While the junior made eight saves, several of them nifty, he also allowed some strikes soft as pillows, and was pulled for freshman Ty Vandenberg in the late going.

Dartmouth won 11 of 25 faceoffs, managed clears on 12 of 16 attempts and was outshot, 38-29. Princeton scooped up 30 ground balls to the hosts’ 29. The Big Green holds out slim hope for its first-ever Ivy League tournament berth, but would have to win its last two league games, at Pennsylvania and against visiting Brown, while hoping various other results fall its way.

Last year’s team “would just stop competing,” Callahan said. “We didn’t do that today, but you get down and start gripping your stick too hard and feeling like you have to make a play. Then you get wilder with your passing and stick cradles and you turn the ball over.”

Dartmouth must endure some serious time on buses this week, traveling to play at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (0-10) in Newark on Tuesday before heading back down to the Garden State to challenge Penn (5-6, 2-3) in Philadelphia four days later.

“I still think we’re playing, relative to the other years I’ve been here, way more competitively,” Hession said. “We’re still getting better week to week and we have everything to play for because the league (standings) are so up in the air.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.




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