March 20, 2010

Froccaro Caps Princeton Comeback in Overtime

from press release

Freshman Jeff Froccaro scored the game-winner in overtime to lift No. 5 Princeton over Penn. "Jeff Froccaro doesn't back down from any situation," Tigers coach Chris Bates said.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Jeff Froccaro made the huge plays, Chris McBride made the hidden play and Princeton broke Penn's heart again.

The freshman Froccaro won the overtime face-off, McBride made sure Penn never touched the ball and Froccaro ripped the game-winner with 52.3 seconds to go in the first OT to give No. 5 Princeton a scintillating 11-10 win over Penn in front of 2,131 at the Class of 1952 Stadium.

"Jeff Froccaro doesn't back down from any situation," said Princeton coach Chris Bates. "He wanted the ball in the huddle. He's a freshman, and he wants to the ball in overtime in his sixth college game."

The win capped a stunning comeback for Princeton and left Penn shocked yet again. Princeton has now defeated Penn 21 straight times, including back-to-back overtime wins after playing a nearly similar game at Franklin Field last year.

The game was the Ivy opener for both and the first Ivy game for Bates as Tiger head coach. Penn is now 4-4 overall, whlie Princeton rebounded from its first loss of the year Tuesday night at No. 2/3 North Carolina to improve to 5-1.

Princeton trailed Carolina by five goals in that game before rallying to tie it, only to lose in the final three minutes. This time, Princeton trailed 7-1 after Penn played an almost perfect first 32 minutes, shutting out Princeton for the first 26:14 and pushing the lead to six two minutes into the third quarter.

"This was a great character win," Bates said. "Really, we had no business winning that game. We hardly had the ball. We played way too much defense, and they really picked us apart. They completely dominated us for the frist two-plus quarters."

And then, Princeton turned the game around on a dime.

Princeton took 12 shots in the first half as Penn swarmed all over the defensive end, but the Tigers would take 35 more after intermission, outshooting Penn 35-12 in the second half and OT.

Still, for all that, Penn still led by four with 8:59 to play after scoring on back-to-back man-advantage situations. But this game was far from over.

Penn's Justin Lynch won 10 of 14 face-offs in the first three quarters, which made him 25 of 37 against Princeton in the last two games to that point. But Princeton ran Peter Smyth, Froccaro and Bobby Lucas at Lynch, and on a hot day began to wear him down.

In fact, Princeton would win 7 of 10 in the fourth quarter and then the face-off to start overtime, and the face-off wins helped Princeton to score four times in a 1:18 span to tie the game. McBride and Froccaro made it 9-7, and then Jack McBride scored the next two to tie it.

Princeton took its first lead at 10-9 when Mike Chanenchuk scored his third goal with 1:11 to go, and it looked like Princeton was in good shape after Lynch turned the ball over after winning the face-off. But Penn swarmed the ball and got it back, and Rob McMullen, the reigning Ivy Player of the Week, tied it with just 17 seconds to play.

"We never thought we were out of it," Chanenchuk said. "I think we showed something coming back. Winning the face-offs helped. Tyler Moni was amazing on the wing. It was a very exciting game."

Princeton defeated Johns Hopkins in its second game of the year in overtime after turning the ball over and giving up a goal with 13 seconds to go. Just like that game, Froccaro won the face-off to start the overtime, making him 7 for 11 on the day.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game, and one that is easy to overlook, came when Chris McBride chased an errant pass near the sideline and, diving fully extended, saved it back to Rob Engelke to maintain possession. The Tigers took four shots that missed the cage before Scott MacKenzie, who scored the game-winner against Hopkins, got it behind to Jack McBride, who tried to dodge but had nowhere to go.

McBride then gave it to Froccaro, who dodged and stuck a jump shot just inside the pipe to end it. Froccaro, who finished with two goals and an assist and now has 10 goals on the season, sprinted straight back to midfield into the pile of Princeton players.

"Scott tried to go to the goal," Froccaro said. "Then Jack did. Finally I got the ball. We were confident the whole way, especially after we came back against Carolina. It was a big win for us. They played great."

Chanenchuk scored three more goals, giving him six for the week and 14 for his freshman year, while adding two assists. Jack McBride had three goals as well.

Penn was led by Corey Winkoff and Rob Fitzpatrick with two goals each.

"In a game like this, seven or eight minutes is a lot of time," Bates said. "Still, there was a point where not only weren't we playing well but we also weren't getting the bounces. You start to wonder if it's going to be your day or not. In the end, we made some big plays and got a big win."


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