Baughan, Princeton Defense Lock In After 'Upgrade Season'


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Watching the Ivy League tournament on television was a tough pill for the Princeton men’s lacrosse team to swallow. It also was the turning point of its season, which has been extended to Championship Weekend after a 14-10 win over fourth-seeded Yale in an all-Ivy NCAA quarterfinal Saturday at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

It gave the fifth-seeded Tigers a chance to get back to the lab and fine-tune things, especially defensively. That’s been evident in the Tigers two tournament wins — a 12-5 victory over Boston University and Saturday’s quarterfinal win over the rival Bulldogs.

Yale coach Andy Shay said he didn’t see anything different from Princeton. But it's clear the Tigers are a better version of themselves as they head to the Final Four for the first time since 2004.

“[Princeton] no-slid [Boston University], and we knew they were going to no-slide us, which is something that not a lot of teams have done,” Shay said. “On a hot day, it was just going to be a battle of wills. Toward the end, I thought we got it moving a little bit in the second half. The second quarter was killer. We just couldn’t clear the ball. I think that was something we had a difficult time recovering from.”

Princeton coach Matt Madalon termed the time from an 18-15 home loss to Cornell on April 30, which came on the heels of a 19-16 Ivy defeat at Harvard, through Selection Sunday and up to a first-round game against BU as “upgrade season.”

The coaching staff took a hard look at all aspects, with added attention on the defensive system and utilizing depth on that side of the ball.

That was evident on a day when the temperature touched 90 degrees in Hempstead. Princeton was able to roll out a bevy of close defenders, long-stick middies and defensive middies against Yale.

“Over the last two games, we played a lot more bodies,” Madalon said. “We knew kind of going into this run with the heat, with the expectations, with the energy, these guys get gassed after warmups with how hyped up they are. So, we knew we’d have to go a little deeper into our bench.”

Princeton made things especially tough on Yale star Matt Brandau, who was limited to one goal on seven shots. 

“They’re a great group, [George] Baughan especially is a fantastic cover guy,” Brandau said. “They had a good game plan, like coach said, making it tough to get the ball through X and kind of slowing down our flow.”

When the Bulldogs did get shots on frame, Erik Peters often made the save. He had 17 saves in total and a save percentage of 63 percent. 

“We’ve got the best goalie in the country, so I know he can bail me out a few times and bail us out as he did,” Baughan said. “We just tried to play super hard on the ground, and we're excited to come out with the win.”

In Baughan, Princeton has one of the best cover guys in the country. His caused turnover inside the final two minutes put the finishing touches on Princeton’s emotional win. But the senior deflected the attention to the unsung heroes of the afternoon. 

“I thought we did a great job today. But I really give a ton of credit to the scout team,” Baughan said. “There’s 20 guys who every day come out and act like Yale, and they just played so hard this week, got us prepared as a unit.”


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