Web Exclusives: From the P-Nut Gallery
a column by Nate Sellwyn email@example.com
forward at mens lax
Robinson talks about this years Tigers
The Princeton mens lacrosse team has won six N.C.A.A. championships,
played in eight N.C.A.A. championship games, advanced to nine Final
Fours and won 11 Ivy League championships in the last 12 years.
Few college athletic programs in the nation can claim such dominance
in the last decade. Yet the mens lacrosse team has been so
good their victories are about as consistent as the timing
of a Japanese bullet train that the numbers seem almost surprising
in their significance. Football brings the alumni home. Basketball
gets the prime-time coverage. But lacrosse has become Princetons
new premier sport.
This season, the team faces two challenges. First, recovering from
last years graduation: The Tigers saw the departure of 13
seniors, including four-year starters Damien Davis, Sean Hartofilis,
and Brad Dumont. Second, shedding the sting of defeat: Last year
was the first in four seasons that saw the Tigers fail to make the
N.C.A.A. Championship game. If that wasnt enough, a late season
blowout loss to Dartmouth forced the Tigers to share the Ivy League
title a title they had held since 1995.
I sat down with John Robinson 04 to discuss the teams
prospects for this year. A senior in the economics department, John
saw little playing time during his first three seasons. However,
he will likely see a greatly increased role this year, as he tries
to bolster the Tigers midfield.
P-Nut: John, where will the team be affected most by
the loss of last years seniors?
J.R.: The midfield. We lost two All-Americans and four other
key contributors. The leadership and depth they provided were underestimated
P-Nut: Will the loss of the nonstarters be felt more
on the field or in the locker room?
J.R.: Seeing that last years seniors helped the team
to three N.C.A.A. championship games and one national title, their
talent and experience will obviously be tough to replace. However,
I would not call this season a rebuilding year. Last season we had
many underclassmen step up and play crucial roles when some of the
seniors went down with various injuries. So while there will be
many new faces on the field this year, almost all of them were able
to get their feet wet last season.
P-Nut: Does the team feel pressured to recapture sole
possession of the Ivy League title?
J.R.: While every year our ultimate goal is to win a national
championship, we never look ahead to that until weve won the
Ivies. Weve been fortunate enough to win the last nine, but
we never take it for granted especially with the talent level
rising so quickly around the league as it has been over the last
P-Nut: Do you think the team has a realistic shot at
the national championship this year?
J.R.: Of course. We may be young but were still a very
talented team. Ryan Boyle 04 and Jason Doneger 05 may
be the best one-two punch in college lacrosse this year. As for
our midfield and defense, you can expect very solid groups at both
positions. And with two extremely talented goalies fighting for
the starting job, I dont believe there is any reason for us
to lower the expectations we have always had to win the Ivy
League title and the national championship.
P-Nut: How do you think Boyle and Doneger will respond
to increased defensive attention?
J.R.: For players as talented as Ryan and Jason, the defenses we
face this year will be nothing new. Theyve received increased
attention since they arrived as freshmen. They realize that in many
ways they will be relied upon to carry the team, but they are both
very selfless and are not the type of players to try to do too much.
I know they have a lot of faith in their teammates, so I think most
of us just hope we can step up and take some of the pressure off
of them. To be honest, I would expect nothing less than All-American
efforts from both of them, and I think Ryan has a very real shot
at the Tewaarton this year.
P-Nut: Its undeniable that his career here has
been something special. Where do you think he will end up fitting
in the history of Princeton lacrosse?
J.R.: While he has never cared much about the individual
awards, Ryans statistics and awards obviously place him as
one of the finest attackmen to ever play for Princeton. With a healthy
senior season, I think he has the opportunity to cement himself
as a member the upper echelon with the likes of (David) Morrow,
(Scott) Bacigalupo, and a few others as one of the finest to play
at Princeton, regardless of position.
P-Nut: Do you think any underclassmen have a chance at
similar greatness? Who among them do you think can be counted upon
to step into the spotlight this year?
J.R.: Just looking at the freshman, both Peter Trombino and
Scott Sowanick will surprise many fans and opponents with their
savvy play. It is rare to have freshmen that can adjust to the college
game and produce immediately, but it appears that they both have
the talent and poise to do so this season.
P-Nut: Would you agree that lacrosse is now the most
celebrated sport at Princeton?
J.R.: If you look at the numbers the Ivy League titles,
the Final Four appearances, and the national championships
I dont think there are many teams in any sport at any school
that have the tradition that Princeton lacrosse has created since
Coach Tierney arrived here.
P-Nut: Will there be revenge on your mind when the team
faces Dartmouth this year?
J.R.: Not necessarily revenge, but I think we will go into
this years game much more focused than we did last year. In
years past we have made the mistake of sometimes underestimating
Ivy League opponents, but the attitude of the team this year is
one that will allow for nothing but the utmost determination to
win each and every game.
You can reach Nate at nsellyn@Princeton.EDU