BY ALI GOEDECKE
The No. 8 men’s lacrosse team topped No. 19 Brown in dramatic fashion Saturday. The Tigers (6-2 overall, 2-1 Ivy League) had a comfortable 15-8 lead by the end of the game, but not without unfavorable numbers on the scoreboard in the first frame and a scare in the final quarter.
Freshman attack Ryan Ambler kicked off a streak of nine unanswered goals against Brown (5-3, 1-1) in the middle 38 minutes. Ambler, one of several freshmen who has answered early-season questions regarding Princeton’s depth and youth, sits fourth in the points column so far, having notched 10 goals and 12 assists for a combined 22 points.
The duo of senior attack Jeff Froccaro and junior offensive midfielder Tom Schreiber posted numbers in just about every stats column. Schreiber’s first of two goals also helped the Tigers recover from a 2-1 deficit in the opening minutes. He tied the score at 2-2 with 5:48 remaining in the first quarter, though the goal resulted from a pass that every teammate in Schreiber’s vicinity missed rather than a shot on goal. Fortunately for the Tigers, the ball bounced past Brown’s goalie, bringing about a significant change in the game’s dynamic.
Princeton chalked up most of its goals while on its unanswered streak, contributing to an interesting statistic in its history against Brown. Since the 1964 season when the Tigers first faced the Bears, Princeton has now scored 15 goals only four times. Prior to 2013, the Tigers achieved the feat in 1975, 1996 and 2001.
Thanks to goals from a wide range of players and from at least one member of every class — from Ambler, Schreiber, senior captain and shortstick defensive middie Chris White, Froccaro, sophomore offensive middie Kip Orban, sophomore attack Mike MacDonald and breakout freshman offensive middie Jake Froccaro — the Tigers left the field at the end of the third with a seemingly insurmountable 10-2 lead.
Jake Froccaro went for more immediately at the start of the final frame, and his aggressiveness around the net led him to his first career three-goal game. His second goal came off a pass from his older brother 29 seconds into the final quarter.
But just when it looked like the game was out of reach, Brown came back with a vengeance. After 38 minutes and 18 seconds of getting absolutely nothing past freshman goalie Matt O’Connor, one of 11 freshmen in the top 50 NCAA goalies according to save percentage, Brown’s Bailey Tillis led a forceful counterassault against the Tigers less than two minutes into the final 15. Two shots went past O’Connor in the span of 10 seconds, and, frighteningly for Princeton, a short time later three went past him in just 31 seconds.
Still, Brown narrowed its deficit to no less than five, doing so twice, but failed to reach the Tigers’ lead. The two teams gave the fans plenty of entertainment in the fourth quarter, scoring a combined 11 after putting a combined 12 into the nets throughout the first three quarters. Brown gave Princeton its best effort, taking 17 shots on O’Connor in the last 15 minutes while only taking 14 on him throughout the first 45. O’Connor has made 67 saves in his 402 minutes in the cage this season, lending him a save percentage of .519.
After a display of depth from attack to goal, from the freshman class to the senior class, the Tigers head into the final five games of the regular season with two top-10 opponents left on their schedule. They will host No. 9 Syracuse in the first of those games Saturday at 5 p.m.