On a windy afternoon in central New Jersey, the Princeton Tigers hosted the Yale Bulldogs in a must-win situation for both teams. Princeton was coming off of a one-goal loss to Penn in Philadelphia, while Yale had suffered a two-goal loss in Ithaca to the No. 2 ranked Cornell Big Red.
For either team, an 0-2 start in conference play would be devastating to their hopes of making an NCAA tournament run.
As the game started, Yale took a 1-0 lead as Princeton once again ended up trailing in the first quarter. The Tigers have been notorious for giving up leads early in the game and have been outscored greatly by their opponents this year in that regard.
The game was essentially a see-saw battle, as neither team could get a lead greater than a goal. Sophomore Mike MacDonald was the star for the Princeton attack. He recorded three goals and an assist on the day, while freshman attacker Ryan Ambler added two goals of his own.
Ambler has recorded all of his 17 points in Princeton wins this year, and has been shut out in the scoring column in the Tigers' two losses.
Yale played extremely aggressive defense, which boded well for them early. Their quick slides and early double teams allowed them to contain All-American midfielder Tom Schreiber, who still managed a goal and three assists as he broke through late in the game.
Coming into the game, Yale was one of the best face-off teams in the nation. They won over 70 percent of the draws against Cornell, but Princeton had different plans.
Sophomore Justin Murphy was outstanding for the Tigers, winning 12 of the 22 face-offs that he took. He shocked everyone in the stands as he helped Princeton dictate the pace of play down the stretch and prevented Yale from going on a scoring run.
Who will win the Ivy League regular season title?
Although on the losing end, it is clear that Yale has the talent to make a tournament run. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, starting 0-2 puts them in a tough position to do so.
The Bulldogs were led by four players with two goals apiece. Conrad Oberbeck and Brandon Mangan headline that crew, as they have had continued success against the Tigers over the past few years.
This rivalry has really heated up recently. After the Tigers beat Yale in five overtimes a year ago in the regular season, Yale blew out Princeton in the Ivy League tournament on their way to their first NCAA birth in almost two decades.
Princeton is now 5-2 as they prepare to host Brown next Saturday at 1 p.m.
Yale, now 3-3, will travel to Philadelphia to face Penn next weekend.