New Haven, CONNECTICUT – Alex Capretta couldn’t remember which overtime it was. Maybe the second. Maybe the third.
All he knew is that it all wanted to be on the field and at that one moment a few OTs earlier, he wasn’t. Instead, during a few shifts way back when – who could remember? – it had been Forest Sonnenfeldt in Capretta’s spot.
“They put Forest in and I know why,” Capretta said. “But every player wants to be in there. Fortunately, I got back in.”
After it ended, he could laugh about it, and why not, it had worked out perfectly for him. And hey, after everything that had just happened, who could blame anyone if some of the details – like which overtime it had been – were a blur.
Capretta ended the longest game in the history of Princeton lacrosse and Yale lacrosse with a goal with 2:21 gone in the fifth – yes, fifth – overtime, giving the Tigers a heart-stopping 10-9 win over the Bulldogs in front of 1,057 at Reese Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Capretta’s winner, off a pass from Tucker Shanley, ended a game that featured amazing performances by players up and down both lineups. It also featured ridiculous swings in momentum that saw the game seemingly won by each team so many different times.
“That was crazy,” Capretta said. “We never gave up. Yale gave us a great fight. It was really nerve-wracking, but we handled it really well. And so did Yale. In the end, we were able to capitalize, and that was the game.”
About an hour ealier, Capretta had scored two goals and added an assist in the fourth quarter as Princeton built two three-goal leads, including 9-6 with 3:35 to go.
Yale, though, ralllied to tie it, getting the equalizer from Greg Mahony with just 21 seconds to go.
And then the game became truly insane.
The game seemed won time again, beginning with Ryan McCarthy’s shot on the first possession of the first overtime and continuing as goalies Tyler Fiorito and Jack Meyer made save after save, until Capretta rocketed one that Meyer just couldn’t stop. Just when it appeared one team had it, the other would step up, get the ball back and take its chance.
“It’s pretty cool to score the winning goal,” Capretta said. “The win is the important thing. We’re happy as a team.”
As the game went on, the pressure built on both teams, and the stakes were huge.
Princeton was looking to win its third straight and go to 2-0 in the Ivy League. Yale was looking to snap a losing streak and even its league record.
Ultimately, as the pressure built, all of that became secondary to the drama of the moment. And none of it was crazier than the fifth OT.
It started with Princeton a man up, which meant no face-off, which was good news for the Tigers, as Yale had won three of the four OT face-offs.
Shanley fired one that Meyer saved, and Princeton’s Rob Castelo was called for a slash on the clear, giving Yale 59 seconds of advantage time.
It looked like Andrew Cordia had it won for the Bulldogs, but Fiorito just got a piece of his bounce shot, which looked like it had actually gone in. Instead, it was possession to Princeton for the clear.
As the Tigers got into their offense, Cordia came off in complete disbelief that his shot hadn’t won it, grabbing his helmet with both hands.
Princeton then spent its final timeout and off the restart, Shanley faked left, passed it back to Capretta on his right and watched as Capretta blasted it into the net.
When it was over, Capretta raised his hands over his head and was mobbed by his teammates.
“We had the lead, had the game won,” said Princeton coach Chris Bates. “We knew the kid facing out would give us trouble and momentum changes quickly. They seized on it. I give us credit. We kept playing defense. We didn’t get flustered.”
Fiorito made five of his 13 saves in the overtimes. Meyer made four of his 14 in the overtimes.
Capretta had three goals and an assist, and Tom Schreiber had two goals and an assist.
Brandon Mangan, who had the game-winner a year ago in the Princeton-Yale game after just a measly 33 seconds of OT, led Yale with two goals and three assists.
Chad Wiedmaier forced four turnovers to lead everyone in that category.
Princeton is now 5-2, 2-0 in the league. Yale is 2-4, 0-2.
“Alex is playing great,” Bates said. “It’s nice for him to have the payoff of an overtime victory goal.”
Not just any overtime goal.
One with great significance, historically and in the present.