It’s unusual that a 10-goal win could have hinged on one play. Then again, Zach Currier is an unusual lacrosse player.
Currier made a game-changing play on the second-half face-off to completely turn around the game, and No. 13 Princeton erupted past Dartmouth from there to win 16-6 Saturday afternoon on Scully Fahey Field in front of 592.
So how did one play make such a difference?
Princeton, the nation’s leader in team shooting percentage, shot just 3 for 25 in the first half, a combination of strong goalie play by George Christopher and some bad luck for the Tigers. Dartmouth led 5-3 and had all the momentum at the break, and another goal after another long Big Green possession to start the second half would have made it even worse for the Tigers.
Dartmouth’s Austin Meacham won the face-off, looking like it would give his team the chance to double up the Tigers. Instead, Currier swiped the ball away from Meacham, scooped up the ground ball in stride and then found Michael Sowers for a goal, just 11 seconds into the half. With that, the entire feel of the game changed.
Princeton then became unstoppable, outscoring Dartmouth 13-1 after the break. It took Princeton 32 seconds after the Sowers goal to tie it, and it was 7-5 Princeton before Dartmouth had a settled second-half possession. Even after the Green scored to make it a one-goal game, Princeton scored the final nine of the day.
For Michael Sowers, it was another game, another major milestone. The freshman had three goals and three assists, giving him 31 goals and 34 assists for 65 points. He is now the third player in program history, along with Mike MacDonald (in 2015) and David Tickner (in 1976), with at least 30 goals and at least 30 assists in the same season.
The win improved Princeton to 8-4 overall and 3-1 in the Ivy League, with a home game against Harvard next Saturday and a trip to Cornell April 29 to end the regular season. Princeton would be in the Ivy League tournament with a win in either game, or with two losses and a combination of other events, but the Tigers cannot host the tournament. Yale clinched at least a share of the title and the right to host the tournament with its 18-12 win over Brown.
* Princeton came into the game shooting .373 as a team, best in Division I. The Tigers then shot 3 for 25 (.120) in the first half before rebounding in a big way, shooting 13 for 27 after the break.
* In addition to that play, Currier had his normal all-around game, finishing with two goals, three assists, nine ground balls, 9 of 11 facing off and the caused turnover. Currier now has 20 goals and 27 assists for the year, as well as 96 ground balls.
* In addition to the 30/30 milestone, Sowers is now in sole possession of the Princeton record for goals in a season by a freshman with 31, after entering the game tied with Mike Chanenchuk at 28. He already had the record for points in a season by a freshman, and he now has 65, two behind Rob Pannell of Cornell for the Ivy League freshman record. His 31 goals tie him for third all-time among Ivy freshmen. In addition, he is now ninth on Princeton’s single-season points list.
* Austin Sims played for the first time in nearly a month after missing four games due to injury and had two goals and an assist. In addition, Princeton also got two goals from Connor McCarthy, Sean Connors, Gavin McBride and Charlie Durbin.
* McBride had two goals and an assist and now has 53 points for the year (39G, 14A), tied for 28th on the school single-season list. With one more goal, he would become the 10th player in program history to have 40 in a season.
* Sam Gravitte won 8 of 10 face-offs and had five ground balls. Princeton won 17 of 24 as a team.
* Between last year’s game and this year’s game, Princeton has been outscored 8-3 in the first half by Dartmouth and outscored the Big Green 20-1 in the second half.