March 13, 2012

Princeton Offense Awakens in Win over Villanova

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay


Princeton coach Chris Bates hopes Jeff Froccaro's five-goal performance in a 14-8 win Tuesday over Villanova "lights a little fire."

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Like a true Ivy Leaguer, Tyler Fiorito saw the big picture and managed to put Princeton's recent two-game men's lacrosse losing streak into perspective.

"Even when we lose, we're right there," the Tigers' senior goalie said. "We're a goal away from beating top-five teams in the country... I made two saves against UNC and we lose by one. Obviously that's going to be tough on a goalie. But my coaches and teammates have been showing their faith in me."

Fiorito, who did not register a save after the first quarter in a 9-8 loss to North Carolina on Saturday, rewarded that faith with a season-high 11 saves Tuesday night, as Princeton defeated Villanova 14-8. Midfielders Tom Schreiber and Jeff Froccaro scored five goals each for the Tigers (3-2). Princeton enjoyed its best offensive output since 2010 and held Villanova to a season low on the other end.

The Tigers' previous losses to Johns Hopkins and North Carolina were by a combined three goals.

"It's nice to get things swung around against a great offensive team," Fiorito said. "They've scored six goals in a quarter before."

Last season after losing to North Carolina, Princeton lost at home to Villanova, the second in what would be a four-game losing streak.

"Last year after we strung all those losses together it was brutal," Schreiber said. "Coach [Chris Bates] stressed it in the locker room after the UNC game. 'Turn the Page. Look to Villanova.' We did. We came out strong and beat them."

Schreiber loomed large that, adding an assist to his five goals. Schreiber came in leading Princeton with 18 points, 10 more than his closest teammate. Froccaro's effort, which included two assists, is the bigger news for Princeton going forward.

"We've challenged Jeff to step up," Bates said. "He's dynamic, but sometimes if he's not in the flow we can stagnate. He can play. For him to put up five goals hopefully lights a little fire. He's a difference maker for us. We're going to need that."

Schreiber and Froccaro were previously held scoreless on seven shots each in the loss to North Carolina.

"I know Jeff and I were both frustrated with our shooting performances against UNC," Schreiber said. "We got a lot of shots on goal and didn't put them in. Finally got a couple to drop today. That's a good feeling. "

Froccaro got his first to drop when he scored to tie it at 3 with 11:38 left in the second quarter. He scored his second goal a minute later to give Princeton the lead for good.

The Tigers led 5-4 at halftime and came out like a different team in the third. Schreiber scored 40 seconds in and Froccaro scored a minute later. Before the frame was over, Schreiber added two more goals, Froccaro one and Tucker Shanley one as Princeton led 11-7.

Five of Princeton's six goals in the third quarter were assisted.

"It was a lot what they were giving us," Bates said. "We were opportunistic, got a lot of early opportunities... We shifted our formation a little bit. We started to pass the ball. We pride ourselves on having assisted goals."

Michael Vigilante led Villanova (4-2) with three goals. Jack Rice, Villanova's top scorer with 14 goals, was held without a shot.

"He's an awesome finisher. We didn't want to let him beat us. He didn't really touch the ball. That was our focus," Fiorito said. "If we can make other guys beat us, hopefully I'll make a few saves. We took away their best threat."

Villanova heads to No. 7 Maryland on Saturday. Princeton hosts Penn the same day. Penn, which lost to Villanova on a last-second, 30-yard goal last Saturday, defeated Princeton 8-3 last year.

"We know they're a very good team," Schreiber said. "They made a statement against us last year. We haven't forgotten that. We have a ton of respect for them."


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