Princeton's Michael Sowers (right) and Cornell's Jeff Teat will take the field as two of the Ivy League's all-time best freshmen.

Sowers, Teat Battle in Matchup of Historic Ivy League Freshmen

Princeton and Cornell face off for the 81st time on Saturday in a rivalry between the winningest programs in Ivy League history. Between the two schools, there have been 27 Ivy League Players of the Year, 17 Rookies of the Year and nine NCAA championships.

The Tigers and Big Red are no strangers to players that garner attention and acclaim in conference and on the national stage. The Ivy League record book is littered with players from both schools.

With such an illustrious background, freshmen like Cornell’s Jeff Teat learned quickly the importance of the lacrosse program on campus.

“It’s a team like I’ve never been on before,” he said. “You could sense the tradition right away. The way everyone goes about their workouts and playing lacrosse, and going to classes, you could sense it right off the bat.”

As storied as the programs are, this year’s Princeton-Cornell matchup will feature one of the most unique individual matchups in the history of the rivalry. Princeton’s Michael Sowers and Teat sit in first and third, respectively, for the most points scored by a freshman in Ivy League history.

Sowers, who passed former Cornell star Rob Pannell’s 67 points on the all-time list, has 70 points on 33 goals and 37 assists in his first season with the Tigers. Teat, who has 57 points in his past nine game — seven better than Sowers — has 60 points on the season and could tie Pannell with a strong showing Saturday.

“Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Rob Pannell is an honor,” Sowers said. “It’s great being to do something like that. Rob is a guy that I looked up to and watched as many games as I could of his.”

“There’s been no one better. Right now, I’m sandwiched in between both of them. That’s pretty special to have that happen." - Rob Pannell

Pannell was just as complimentary of the two Ivy League freshmen.

“There’s been no one better,” Pannell said of Sowers and Teat. “Right now, I’m sandwiched in between both of them. That’s pretty special to have that happen. It says a lot about the talent level of kids playing lacrosse this year. You’re starting to see the kids growing up and loving the game so much. That’s why you’re seeing freshmen like Michael Sowers and Jeff Teat.”

Sowers met Pannell when the two played a round of golf at Merion Golf Club. Pannell hadn’t seen Sowers play lacrosse at that point, but now that he has, he said his lacrosse game is much better than his golf game.

A talented player at Upper Dublin High School (Pa.), Sowers chose Princeton because of its proximity to home, and its storied history, watching players like Tom Schreiber and Ryan Ambler growing up. 

He got a glimpse of what college lacrosse could be like when he helped lead Team USA to the FIL U19 World Championship gold medal. He tied for the team lead with 11 goals and 11 assists in the tournament.

“To play for [Nick] Myers, he’s a tremendous coach,” Sowers said of his U.S. team coach. “And to play for [assistant] coach Pat Myers, he really opened my eyes to realize how fast the college game would move. Just being able to learn from those guys about what it means to be successful early on definitely helped the transition to the college game.”

Sowers’ transition to the Princeton offense was a quick one, following in the footsteps of teammate Gavin McBride in the fall. He broke onto the college scene with a two-goal, five-assist performance in a win over NJIT. He also added nine-point games in blowout wins over Ivy League opponents Penn and Brown.

He credits the work of his teammates in his success this season.

“I’ve been a product of people turning their attention to Gavin McBride and Zach Currier,” he said. “I’ve been able to take advantage of defenses shifting their attention.”

As for Teat, the Hill Academy (Ontario) product enjoyed Cornell’s campus and distance from home. He, too, benefitted from playing in the U19 World Championship, competing alongside Cornell teammates Clarke Petterson and Caelahn Bullen. 

Pannell played opposite Teat in the annual Cornell alumni game in the fall, and he was immediately impressed.

“I couldn’t be more impressed with his lacrosse IQ, his skill set and how he played,” Pannell said. “I could tell right away that the future — this season hasn’t gone as hoped — is really bright, not only for him but for Cornell.”

Teat also starred for the Brampton Excelsiors of the Ontario Junior A League, scoring 145 points in his final season.

However, he didn’t have the same start as his Ivy League counterpart. He had three points in his first three games, but said he started to feel comfortable during his 11-point game in a loss to Virginia on March 11.

Since then, he’s averaged 6.33 points per game and now leads the team in both goals (28) and assists (32).

“I’ve had to adapt my game to the college level,” Teat said. “I was stuck in that high school mode a little bit, but my teammates helped me out to know how to play and how they play. Once we started to figure out each other’s strengths and working, that’s when it turned around for me.”

Teat said he thinks the high school level of play has increased over the past few years, helping him and other freshmen excel early in their college careers.

“Overall, our class is strong in all aspects, not just in my position, goalie and attack, all aspects,” he said. “It’s a good sign for college lacrosse for the next four years.”


Virginia's Michael Kraus is leading the team with 55 points on 34 goals and 21 assists.

Here’s a look at other freshmen making impacts in the college game this season:


Ethan Walker, Denver
Walker joined a Denver program that already boasted a Tewaaraton Award finalist from 2016 in Connor Cannizzaro. All he did to break onto the scene was put up 52 points in his first 12 games with the Pioneers — one more than his star teammate.

He’s stepped up in a few of Denver’s biggest games, including a five-point performance in the win at Towson in March.

Mac O’Keefe, Penn State

He has since cooled off, but O’Keefe led the nation with 24 goals through his first two games. He helped lead Penn State to an undefeated start entering Big Ten play.

He still sits second on the team with 42 goals and five assists. Not bad for his first campaign.

TD Ierlan, Albany

If we had any doubts about who might take over Trevor Baptiste’s mantle for dominance at the faceoff X in the future, Ierlan made his name known. He sits second in the country with a 69.1 faceoff win percentage to help the surging Great Danes.

Michael Kraus, Virginia

Kraus, and teammate Dox Aitken (a U.S. U19 team member) have been impressive for Lars Tiffany’s Cavaliers. The former is leading the team with 55 points on 34 goals and 21 assists.

He sits 22nd in the nation and fourth among freshmen in points per game.

Ryan Tierney, Hofstra

We know Hofstra coach Seth Tierney didn’t recruit Ryan just because he was his son. No, Ryan Tierney is one of the top players on a Pride team that was the last to lose in Division I this year.

Ryan Tierney is second on the team with 41 points on 26 goals and 15 assists.

Gerard Arceri, Penn State

Not far behind Ierlan is Arceri, who ranks fifth in the nation with a 64.5 faceoff percentage for the Nittany Lions. He just won 16 of 20 faceoffs on Sunday, helping Penn State beat Rutgers and clinch a spot in the Big Ten tournament.


Emily Hawryshuk, Syracuse

With Kayla Treanor gone after an illustrious career at Syracuse, the Orange needed to replace her production. Hawryshuk has certainly helped shoulder some of the load as a freshman, sitting second on the team with 31 goals and six assists.

She scored four goals in a win over Boston College and tallied six points in a victory over Virginia Tech.

Kerrigan Miller, USC

Miller, a member of the 2015 U.S. U19 team, has become an important player on a USC offense that includes Michaela Michael and Kylie Drexel. She’s fourth on the team with 30 goals and 12 assists, and second in draw controls with 31.

Jill Rizzo, Ohio State

Rizzo has been a mainstay between the pipes for the Buckeyes all season long, making 183 saves in 17 games. As a result, she ranks ninth in the nation with 10.76 saves per game — the most of any freshman.

Alyssa Parrella, Hofstra

All Parrella has done this season is score goals. She’s second among freshmen with 47 goals and sits 26th in the nation in goals per game.

And she’s come up big in some key games, including a six-goal, one-assist performance in the upset of Towson on April 16.

Kali Hartshorn, Maryland

Hartshorn has already made a big impact on a Maryland team that has gone through the regular season unscathed. She leads the team with 71 draw controls.

But she’s not just a threat on the draw control. Hartshorn is fifth on the team with 50 points on 42 goals and eight assists.

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