The book on Princeton isn't a huge secret: If you can avoid nuclear warfare with the Tigers and possession starve Princeton, the Tigers may struggle to hit their success ceiling. Princeton -- with Jeff and Jake Froccaro, Tom Schreiber, and a battalion of others -- has one of the most potent offenses in the country but need to utilize that offense to erase some of the team's overall defensive deficiencies. On Sunday at Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, Yale played the script perfectly: Dylan Levings won almost 83 percent of his draws (approximately 58 percent of Yale's offensive opportunities were attributable to Levings' work o the whistle), the Elis played with a plus-12 opportunity margin against the Tigers, and Yale's defense did just enough -- notably, Eric Natale (a blind spot for the Bulldogs entering the tournament) played well between the pipes -- to hold Princeton back in a 12-8 victory for the Elis. The win positions Yale in the NCAA Tournament -- a dangerous matchup for many teams given the strength of the team's overall field defense and the individual offensive talent that Andy Shay has at his disposal -- and possibly keeps Princeton from The Big Barbecue (the Tigers last missed the national tournament in 2011 and have missed May's biggest event only three times since 2000).
The game itself was dictated almost entirely by runs: Princeton opened the game with a two-goal effort over the contest's first 5:37; Yale unleashed a six-goal run over 20:26, starting at the 8:02 mark of the first quarter and ending with 2:36 left in the second period; Princeton then used a four-goal run to draw square at six with 10:43 left in the third quarter; and Yale put the game away thanks to a five-goal spurt in the later stages of the penultimate stanza, pulling ahead at the 8:08 mark and holding an 11-6 advantage with just 1:17 left in the period. The teams would trade goals in the fourth quarter -- a Tom Schreiber tally would draw Princeton within four, Brandon Mangan would push the lead back out to five just over six minutes later, and Hunter deButts would ram home an inconsequential goal on a Schreiber assist with 3:09 remaining in the game -- but the outcome was decided before the final 15 minutes were played. It was that five-goal run late in the third that epitomized how to beat the Tigers: Following the Oberbeck goal to give Yale a 7-6 lead, the Elis earned five of the game's ensuing six possessions, scoring on four of them and getting a save from Natale (on a Jake Froccaro shot) on the Tigers' lone opportunity.
Here's a truncated tempo-free box score:
|Offensive Efficiency (per 100 Offensive Opportunities)||38.10||36.36|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.62||1.33|
|Offensive Shooting Percentage||23.53%||27.27%||Turnovers (per 100 Offensive Opportunities)||42.86||24.24|
|Team Save Percentage||47.83%||55.56%|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||33.33||47.62|