Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The MacBean Family

Jeff MacBean was a very consistent and tenacious midfielder for the Princeton men's lacrosse team in the 1990s.

He was a key member of two NCAA championship teams, assisting on the game-winning goal in overtime in the 1994 final and then finishing his career as a second-team All-American on the 1996 NCAA champion.

MacBean had the good sense to hug Jesse Hubbard after Hubbard's game-winning goal in overtime of the 1996 final. That's because the picture of the two of them ended up on the cover of Lacrosse Magazine, and now all these years later, the magazine is doing a "where are they now" series on people who were on previous covers.

Because of that, the Lacrosse Magazine people reached out to TigerBlog for some information about MacBean's career. MacBean finished his career with 40 goals and 49 assists, not to mention 115 ground balls.

In short, he was the kind of winning player that NCAA championship teams needed.

When TB looked back at the scoresheet from the 1996 final, there were some things he remembered pretty much exactly and others that he'd forgotten. For instance, he did remember that Princeton went up 12-9 after scoring three goals in a seven-minute stretch from late in the third into the fourth and that Virginia tied it with three fourth-quarter goals, in a span of little more than four minutes.

TB did forget that Don McDonough tied Hubbard with a team-best three goals on the day. He did remember that Virginia's Michael Watson was unstoppable, with five goals of his own, to earn Most Outstanding Player honors (TB thinks it was voted on before the OT).

The 1994 and 1996 NCAA finals did have a lot of similarities. Both games were at Byrd Stadium at the University of Maryland. Both times Princeton defeated Virginia. Both games went to overtime.

Both times Princeton won the OT face-off (though UVa fans will doubt that statement to this day). Both times Princeton won on that first OT possession.

Both game-winning goals were scored by Princeton's No. 16 (Kevin Lowe in 1994, Hubbard in 1996). Both of those goal-scorers are now in the US Lacrosse National Hall of Fame.

Actually, so too is Watson, the UVa star. TB has never met Watson, but he's relatively sure that it still bothers him that Princeton won both of those games - especially after outshooting the Tigers 44-33 in that 1996 game. Pancho Gutstein, by the way, came off the bench to make eight saves while allowing five goals in 28 minutes for Princeton to earn All-Tournament honors.

TigerBlog looked on YouTube to see the game-winning goals from those two games, but he could only find the 1994 one. That was the one where MacBean took the ball behind the goal and found Lowe up top, where Lowe had all the time in the world to get his shot off.

It's interesting that Lowe was the goal-scorer and not the feeder, since Lowe is one of the great feeders ever to play.

As for the 1996 game, the assist on Hubbard's goal came from Lorne Smith, himself a first-team All-American midfielder.

Princeton lacrosse has won nine NCAA championships between men and women. Of those nine, more than half - five - were decided in overtime. Princeton is 5-1 in overtime NCAA championships games, including 4-0 for the men.

Think about how much different Princeton men's lacrosse history would have been had those four overtimes gone the other way.

Also, the average margin of victory in Princeton's non-OT NCAA wins is four goals for the women (12-7 over Georgetown in 2002 and 10-7 over Maryland in 1994) and 11 goals for the men, who defeated Maryland 19-7 in 1997 and 15-5 in 1998.

No men's team has ever won an NCAA final by more than 12 goals.

Back at Jeff MacBean, he was not the only member of his family who was a championship athlete at Princeton.

His father Scott was a member of the 1969 Princeton Ivy League football championship team. He was also the first T-formation quarterback in Princeton history, as the Tigers didn't abandon the single-wing until after Dick Colman left following the 1968 season.

MacBean, the father, was a 1969 first-team All-Ivy League selection.

That's a pretty good Tiger father/son duo.

1 comment:

D '82 said...

TB, if you take another look at the end of the 1994 championship game, I think you might change your narrative. I don't believe MacBean was looking for Lowe on that play.

It appears that MacBean was looking for the teammate cutting straight at the goal, right down Broadway. But the pass goes over his head and the intended recipient does a great job to avoid a crease violation.

Then, in a sign that either the play was very well designed with Lowe there to back up a missed pass, or that--as indicated in the university motto--God did indeed go to Princeton, the ball bounces directly to Lowe, who has time and room for a full wind-up before releasing his title-winning shot.

Of course, the best part of the video is that, after dramatically winning an NCAA championship in overtime, Tierney does not spill one drop of water from the small cup he is holding in his left hand. That is one cool customer.