October 10, 2010

Princeton Steals Show at Play for Parkinson's Fall Lacrosse Tournament

by Joel Censer | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Censer Archive

Princeton goalie Tyler Fiorito looked in midseason form, spearheading the Tigers' seamless transition game Saturday in the Play for Parkinson's fall lacrosse tournament.

© Greg Wall

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The first-annual Play for Parkinson's fall lacrosse tournament transpired Saturday at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. The tournament, established by former Princeton and Team USA defender Christian Cook, whose own mother was diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson's two years ago, directly benefits the Project Spark Foundation, a group working to help find a cure for the debilitating disease.

Besides helping raise money and awareness for a good cause, the tournament also provided lacrosse enthusiasts with an early glimpse of how the 2011 college men's lacrosse season may play out.

That doesn't mean it's any kind of exact litmus test. It's still "fall ball," a time when scores aren't kept and coaches mix up lineups, divvy playing time out more equally, and have far different aims than in the spring.

For preseason darling Virginia, skirmishes against Army and Princeton showed a squad with tremendous athleticism whose own play was often marred by sloppiness.

The Wahoo miscues where most evident in the clearing game, not surprising considering UVA graduated back-line stalwarts Ken Clausen and Ryan Nizolek. The Virginia defense now relies on senior Matt Lovejoy, sophomore Harry Prevas and freshman Scott McWilliams, whose end-to-end athleticism, number 27 and long mane invite the inevitable Clausen comparisons.

"We didn't pick the ball up in every instance, threw the ball away on some clears," said head coach Dom Starsia. "Actually when you're inexperienced on defense, it often manifests mostly clearly in the clearing game which is a more instinctive kind of thing."

But despite a few unforced errors and transition goals, the Cavaliers looked solid in settled defense (although sometimes confused by Princeton's pick and screen games) and were able to generate offense -- but not always finish -- against two of the country's stingier defenses.

They also have something no other team really has: a pu-pu platter of explosive midfielders (the Bratton twins, John Haldy, Colin Briggs and Chris LaPierre) who consistently draw slides. And the rich only get richer. Rob Emery, a freshman midfielder from St. Ignatius in San Francisco, is a rangy kid who is very quickly learning the pace of the college game.

As for the Virginia attack, juniors Steele Stanwick and Chris Bocklet were solid, consistently scoring in transition and in settled offense. Connor English, an aggressive lefty dodger, looked comfortable as the third. (Here's a hint, though: if he puts the stick in his right hand, he's probably going to spin back to his left.)

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