Andy Moe's shot in 1992 did more than secure the Tigers' first national championship and crown Bill Tierney as one of the country's brightest lacrosse minds. It also ignited a ferocious rivalry with Syracuse, a series that would define and dominate the national conversation for 18 seasons over the course of 21 games. That rivalry, though, seemingly came out of nowhere and would not have occurred had Tierney not reversed the fortunes of the Tigers' lacrosse concern.
Prior to Tierney's arrival at Princeton, the Tigers were an afterthought on the national scene: A 90-138 record (39.47 percent) from 1971 through 1987 left Princeton devoid of NCAA Tournament and Ivy League relevance. Things changed in 1988, Tierney's first season in New Jersey: a 2-13 record in his first tour with the Tigers morphed into a 6-8 effort in 1989, accelerating to a combined 23-8 mark over the next two seasons (campaigns that netted Princeton the program's first two appearances in The Big Barbeque). Syracuse, meanwhile, strung together three NCAA Tournament titles from 1988 to 1990, supplement their rings with a Championship Weekend appearance in 1991. The collision course the programs were on was clear: Despite meeting only four times prior to the teams' 1992 national title game date (1976, 1947, 1923, and 1922), the future of Syracuse and Princeton would change in important ways over almost two decades of competition. And it was Moe's bucket that signaled that the strength of the rivalry would maintain balance throughout the period of angst each program created for the other.
Digging into the Syracuse-Princeton series history from 1992 through 2009 -- spanning the all-important meeting in before 13,000 fans at Franklin Field and Tierney's last season at Princeton -- a refrain emerges: While Syracuse held the upper hand in the rivalry, the fight was always there between the two high-caliber programs:
|YEAR||PRI||SYR||MEETING||PRI RANK||SYR RANK|
|1992||10||9||NCAA Championship (2OT)||3||1|
|1999||5||7||NCAA First Round||8||7|
|2001||10||9||NCAA Championship (OT)||1||2|
|REG. SEASON||101||125||SYRACUSE (7-4)|
|NCAA TOUR.||91||115||SYRACUSE (6-4)|
|TITLE GAME||39||44||TIED (2-2)|
It's that 1992 through 2002 stretch of games that is most interesting: In those 11 years, Princeton and Syracuse combined for 10 titles (the Tigers with six and the Orange with four) with only Virginia -- in 1999 -- breaking up the stranglehold that Syracuse and Princeton had on the gold medal. That is insane, and it all started with Andy Moe bouncing home a winner against Slugger's beauties.