The No. 9 men’s lacrosse team kicked off its season with a dramatic win on Saturday, giving the home crowd a show on the first truly nice day of the year. The Tigers (1-0) looked far from dominant against Hofstra — until the final period, when four straight goals lifted them over the Pride (0-2) for a season-opening 12-10 victory.
The offense’s biggest producers picked up right where they left off last season. The first goal of Princeton’s season came from junior attacker Mike MacDonald, who scored with 8:23 to go in the first period. After Hofstra responded quickly to even the game, the Tigers took their second lead minutes later. Senior midfielder Tom Schreiber, currently on the college inactive roster of Major League Lacrosse’s Ohio Machine, which took him with the first overall pick of the 2014 MLL Draft, delivered his first goal from roughly 10 yards out.
The teams then traded goals for the rest of the first period and much of the second, with MacDonald notching his second goal on a fast break with an assist from sophomore attacker Ryan Ambler. Princeton was up 4-3, but Hofstra tightened up and scored three unanswered points to close out the half. Though the breakaway had come over the span of fewer than two minutes, the Pride finished the half having outshot Princeton by a huge margin: 27-8.
After senior goalie Brian Kavanagh allowed six goals and saved 10 of those 27 shots, sophomore Matt O’Connor replaced him in goal at the start of the second half. Six minutes into the third period, however, Hofstra struck again and widened the lead to 7-4.
After the Pride added an eighth goal, Schreiber took the momentum back with his second goal. The Tigers kept the pressure up. Ambler picked up a ground ball, and the ball found its way to junior midfielder Kip Orban, who missed, but less than a minute later another Schreiber pass in a man-up situation led to a goal from Orban, narrowing the lead by two. Within two minutes, Hofstra’s lead was down to one after MacDonald assisted junior midfielder Will Rotatori.
With 1:31 to go in the third, the Tigers capitalized on another man-up situation and Orban found the net again, tying the game at eight. Just before the end of the period, however, Hofstra snuck one past O’Connor to go into the final period with a narrow lead.
Hofstra had taken just seven shots in the third period while Princeton took nine, one more than it had in the entire first half.
MacDonald answered back to tie the game at nine in the final quarter.
A few minutes later, Princeton’s onslaught began. Ambler got the ball rolling again with a pass to Schreiber, who gave Princeton the advantage. Hofstra called a timeout in an attempt to stop the momentum, but to no avail — Ambler worked quickly, getting the ball to MacDonald, who put the Tigers up 11-9. Rotatori added another goal just over a minute later.
Hofstra’s Sam Llinares scored his third goal of the contest with under three minutes to go, but O’Connor and the defense held on to win 12-10.
MacDonald finished the game with four goals and an assist and now has 10 goals in three career games against Hofstra. Schreiber had three goals and two assists. The Pride outshot the Tigers 41-29 overall, but Princeton had 21 shots in the second half while Hofstra had just 14.
The Tigers will be in action again on Tuesday when they travel an hour north to face Manhattan. Next weekend will see the first major test of their season as they host No. 8 Johns Hopkins.