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The Best Lacrosse Team in the History of History Tournament: (15) 1996 Princeton at (2) 1976 Cornell

Alright, it's time for the bottom half of the bracket. It's a sneaky four-pack of games, and we're starting with the only game that features teams that were separated by more than a decade.

To the truncated profiles! (There's a poll at the end for you to cast your vote.)

(15) 1996 Princeton Tigers

Details of Incredible Importance

Record: 14-1
Tournament Seed: 1
National Champion?: National champion
Four Really Important Names:
Hall of Famers: One -- Jesse Hubbard
All-Americans: Five -- Jesse Hubbard (First Team); John Hess, Jeff MacBean, Becket Wolf (Second Team); Chris Massey (Third Team)
Scoring Margin per Game: 8.27

Brief Notes For/Against

  • The 1996 Princeton teams was the starting line for Bill Tierney's back-to-back-to-back championships from '96-'98. The team was a mix of emerging offensive stars with an undervalued defense that held all but two opponents to under 10 goals (Virginia (twice) and Harvard). The offense was a showcase, averaging 15.67 goals per game throughout the year and over 15 goals per game in the NCAA Tournament. The team was headlined with legitimate stars: Hubbard, Hess, Massey, Christian Cook, and all the rest. This wasn't just a team that was running through the Ivy League; it was a national force behind Bill Tierney.
  • The schedule wasn't all that hot in 1996, and it did include a loss to Virginia in the regular season and an overtime defeat of the Cavaliers in the national finale. Looking back at LaxPower's ratings for the season, there are only a handful of exceptional victories: at Johns Hopkins to open the season (12-9), Virginia (13-12, OT), and North Carolina (16-9). The team never saw Maryland during the regular or postseason as Hopkins dropped the Terps in the national quarterfinals. Otherwise, it was a bunch of nice wins -- Brown, Harvard, and Syracuse -- and a lot of expected whitewashings. It was a really good team that would become one of the best, but not on the level of the 1997 team.

(2) 1976 Cornell Big Red

Details of Incredible Importance

Record: 16-0
Tournament Seed: 2
National Champion?: National champion
Four Really Important Names:
Hall of Famers: Six -- Dan Mackesey; Bill Marino; Chris Kane; Bob Henrickson; Eamon McEneaney; Mike French
All-Americans: 10 -- Mike French, Eamon McEneaney, Bill Marino, Dan Mackesey (First Team); Jon Levine, Bob Katz (Second Team); Steve Dybus, Bob Henrickson, Tom Marino, Ted Marchell (Honorable Mention)
Scoring Margin per Game: 10.75

Brief Notes For/Against

  • All-Americans and Hall of Famers aside, this was an awesome team from top to bottom and they proved it on the biggest stage: in the NCAA Tournament. Seeded second behind Bud Beardmore's Maryland squad (a team that had won the national championship in the previous season), the Red and the Terps were on a collision course to help determine which program would be the strongest of the '70's. Both entered the tournament undefeated and each would decimate their opponents along the way to the title game. For Cornell, that entailed shutting out Washington & Lee 14-0 in the first round (a team that outscored its opponents 147-89 in the regular season and had been to the national semifinals the year prior) and dropping third-seeded Johns Hopkins, 13-5. In the title game, Cornell stormed back from a 7-2 halftime deficit to eventually win 16-13 in overtime; the Red's defense held Maryland's Frank Urso to just two goals in the game. Not only was the 1976 iteration of Cornell one of the best all time, it also dropped one of the better teams of all time on its way to its second national championship.
  • The carnage from this team was impressive: only two teams -- Maryland in the title game and Massachusetts -- scored double digits against Cornell's defense; the Red held opponents to six goals or less on seven occassions (including the shutout of Washington & Lee in the tournament and a 16-1 clobbering of Cortland); Cornell never failed to score at least 10 goals in a game and in five games scored at least 21; scoring margin per game is through the roof and this year started the longest winning streak ever at 42 games.

So, who are you taking: 1996 Princeton or 1976 Cornell? Back up your expression of freedom in the comments, homeslice.