Justin Murphy won 13 of 22 face-offs to lead No. 11 Princeton to a 10-9 win against No. 18 Yale in front of 1,079 fans on Friday afternoon. Mike MacDonald (3G, 1A) and Tom Schreiber (1G, 3A) had four-point days for the Tigers, who had to hold off a furious late challenge by the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs’ last two visits to Princeton had both been victories, including a complete demolition of Princeton in the Ivy League tournament final a year ago.
On the opening face-off Murphy won cleanly. And that set the tone for the day.
Princeton led 10-7 with 8:57 to go when Mike MacDonald scored his third goal. Yale answered with two goals 1:37 apart to make it 10-9 with 5:18 remaining. Yale then won that face-off, and when longstick Michael McCormack lingered on the offensive end when Murphy didn’t, he found himself open from about 15 yards out. McCormack let a tough low shot go, but Princeton goalie Matt O’Connor smothered it. Then, with just over a minute to go and Yale in possession, Mark Strabo stripped Conrad Oberbeck – Yale’s leading scorer who had two goals in the game – as he dodged and the ball rolled to O’Connor in the crease. Yale did not regain possession.
Princeton, up 10-9, cleared after Strabo caused a turnover and then put the ball on the ground, where Hunter deButts came up with a tough ground ball, leading to a Princeton timeout with 28 seconds left.
Princeton improved to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Ivy League. Yale is now 3-3, 0-2 in the league after being outscored by Cornell by two goals and now Princeton by one in its two league games.
For the Tigers, Murphy won 13 of 22 face-offs, taking all but one draw for the day. And he did it against Dylan Levings, who won 24 of 40 face-offs against Princeton last year (60 percent) and won 22 of 25 against Cornell a week ago. Levings ranked fourth in Division I in face-off winning percentage at 61.1 percent prior to the game. Murphy, who has now won 40 of his last 60 face-offs, helped Princeton to have an edge in shots (38-37) and ground balls (32-31).
Princeton’s 10 goals all came from its starting attack and first midfield – MacDonald with three, Ambler and Kip Orban with two and Schreiber and Jeff and Jake Froccaro with one each. That group now has 79 of Princeton’s 85 goals this year.
Yale had won 132 of 201 face-offs (65.7 percent) during the last 10 meetings between the schools before Murphy won 13 of 22 this time. Tom Gibbons, a longstick midfielder, took the final face-off of the third quarter after a Ryan Ambler goal with four seconds left and simply tried to stop Levings from getting a fast break.
Yale had been shooting nearly 31 percent as a team for the year. Against Princeton, Yale was 9-for-37, or 24.3 percent.
Princeton has reached double figures in all seven games this season. The last time Princeton was in double figures in this many games to start a season was 2003, when it did so for the first 10 games. The only time Princeton has been in double figures in every game for a full season was in 1951.