Princeton pushes past No. 18 Rutgers on strength of four-goal run
Entering the matchup with Princeton, the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team’s top attacking line, consisting of senior Scott Bieda, freshman Adam Charalambides and sophomore Jules Heningburg, had tallied 47 goals through the first six games.
After the final horn sounded Monday night, the Scarlet Knights (5-2) three-headed offensive juggernaut had managed to muster only one.
With driving rain and wind gusts up to 25 MPH, offense was limited for both teams in the first half.
But early in the third quarter, the Tigers pounced, scoring four goals in 3:10 to build a lead Rutgers could never surmount and Princeton (2-3) earned a 10-7 win over the Knights at Sherrerd Field within Class of 1952 Stadium.
“I don’t know if it was a breakdown defensively, I thought it was a breakdown offensively,” said head coach Brian Brecht. “We played with such pace and ball movement and we come into the third quarter with a 2-2 game and we’re not moving the ball. We’re taking poor shots, in my opinion. You know, you can’t play a lot of defense and be successful at this level against good teams.”
Princeton walked away with the Meistrell Cup, the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual intrastate matchup, for the 28th time in the last 29 meetings between the two schools.
Coming off three consecutive losses, the Tigers controlled the tempo for the majority of the game, although the weather may have contributed to a slow offensive start for both teams.
Princeton attacker Ryan Ambler opened the scoring with 4:32 left in the first quarter and the score remained 1-0 until Rutgers junior attacker Christian Trasolini took advantage of a man-up opportunity and fired one past Tigers goaltender Ryan Blaisdell to even it up at 1-1 at the 9:44 mark of the second quarter.
After Zach Currier helped the Tigers retake the lead, Ryan Hollingsworth netted the second man-up goal for the Knights and the game remained tied at the close of the first half.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Rutgers failed to clear and Princeton capitalized.
Zach Currier netted the first goal of the second half with 13:16 remaining in the third.
Sixteen seconds later, Alleyne and his defense were unable to control a rebound resulting from a shot fired by the Tigers’ Sean Conners, allowing Princeton’s Riley Thompson to scoop the groundball and beat Alleyne stickside, giving the Tigers a 4-2 lead.
It would take less than 90 seconds for the Tigers’ to register their next tally to make it 5-2, and before the Knights had a chance to look up, it was 6-2 with 10:50 left in the third period and Rutgers spirit was broken.
Senior midfielder Zack Sikora got the Knights back within three with just over two minutes left in the third, followed by Josh Jordan’s goal to make it 6-4, but Ambler scored his third goal of the game just nine seconds into the fourth quarter and by the 12:14 mark, Gavin McBride helped put the game out of reach.
“I’ve been kind of in a rut this season. I’ve had a couple games where I’ve taken shots that just haven’t gone in,” Sikora said postgame. “It’s nice to see that one fall to get back into it, but at the same time, I’d rather never score and win games. I mean, it’s bittersweet.”
Bieda notched his lone goal to make it 8-5 with 8:34 left, but the Knights would never get closer than three goals behind for the remainder of the contest.
It was Bieda’s 15th goal of the year, with the senior captain adding an assist to extend his point scoring streak to 26 games and his goal scoring streak to 14 games.
But the night belonged to a Tigers defense that weathered 41 shots to walk away with the three-goal win.
“They were just a good defense,” Bieda said. “They rotate well, they’re all athletic, good one-on-one, they just got the best of us tonight.”
Despite Bieda’s praise for the Princeton defense, Brecht saw internal issues as the cause for the Knights lack of offensive punch amid the misty conditions.
While giving Princeton netminder Tyler Blaisdell his due, the fifth-year head coach offered an explanation for Blaisdell's success.
“I am disappointed. We out-groundballed them we out shot them, didn’t take good shots or at least we didn’t put them in good spots,” Brecht said postgame. “Give a lot of credit to them, they have a good goalie, but 14 saves? The only reason he has 14 saves is because we threw it in his stick.”
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