Wins came for both Princeton lacrosse teams this past Saturday at Class of 1952 Stadium’s Sherrerd Field. They face quick turnarounds before this week’s matchups.
The men (5-4 overall, 1-2 Ivy League) saw strong performances from across the classes this past Saturday. Senior midfielder Tom Schreiber reached career milestones of 100 goals and 90 assists, making him the first ever Ivy League middie to reach both marks. Junior goalkeeper Eric Sanschagrin, in his first start and first win of the season, tallied a career high 14 saves. Sophomore attackman Ryan Ambler had five points on five goals, while freshman faceoff specialist Jack O’Brien crucially managed to out face Rutgers star Joseph Nardella at the X during the second and third quarters.
This form should help them get past the visitors from Lehigh University (9-3, 5-2 Patriot League) Tuesday night. Though riding a three-game win streak, the Mountain Hawks have dropped their last two to Ivy League sides. A month ago, they fell by a crushing score of 10-2 to Yale’s Bulldogs.
In its pregame report, GoPrincetonTigers.com notes the somewhat bizarre nature of this particular rivalry. According to Princeton, the teams have met 13 times. According to Lehigh, that number is 15. Such are the recording disparities that come when a series begins in 1888 and ends before America’s involvement in WWII.
With an overall offense ranked No. 9 in goals per game, Princeton’s special teams have been perhaps the country’s best this season. Their man-up unit has converted 55.6 percent of the time, thanks to head coach Chris Bates’ mobile and efficient extra-man scheme. This mark comes is second only to the absurd 68.3 conversion percent of Detroit. Their man-down defense tops Division I, killing penalties at a rate of 79.3 percent.
Though the Mountain Hawks do not play against competition as consistently strong as Princeton’s, their 6.5 goal against average is remarkably good for second best in the NCAA’s top division.
Lehigh’s attackmen Dan Taylor and Patrick Corbett have been some of the best goal scorers in the Patriot League during their three years in Bethlehem, Pa., registering respective stat lines of 23g 16a and 23g 3a this season. Both hail from Canada and weigh in at around 200 lbs, which stereotypically indicates that they are tough-riding players who will attempt to bully Sanschagrin and his defense on clears.
Although the talented Tigers should approach every opponent with confidence, the pressure will remain very high throughout the men’s final three contests. Currently tied for fifth in-league with Brown, Princeton is on the outside looking in at a postseason berth. Four teams make the Ivy League tournament, and to be one of those teams, Schreiber and company will likely have to run the table of their upcoming opponents.
Although the Princeton women (7-3, 3-1) currently ride a six-game winning streak, the toughest tests of the season lie before them. They will face No. 2 University of Maryland (13-1, 4-1 ACC) at home this Wednesday evening. Slated to face three currently top 20 opponents over the next five games, the Tigers will have to play at increasingly higher levels to find the form required for postseason success.
Maryland has won the last eight contests in this series and holds the all-time lead 26-8. Last season, the College Park machine quickly established a 4-0 lead in what would be a 15-9 Princeton loss.
The Terrapins only loss this season came this past weekend against in-conference rivals No. 1 University of North Carolina. ACC lacrosse is, by any account, the premier showcase for both men and women.
Offensive firepower has been abundant of late for Princeton. From the attack, junior Erin McMunn and sophomore Alexandra Bruno have tallied 18 goals each. Junior midfielder Erin Slifer together with her freshmen linemates Anna Doherty and Olivia Hompe all have 20-plus points.
The way in which they dispatched Yale demonstrated that, when playing in tandem, the Tigers can score at one of the highest rates in the country.
Junior goalkeeper Annie Woehling leads the defensive unit of senior Colleen Smith, sophomore Liz Bannantine and freshman Madeline Rodriguez. Woehling has a Goals Against Average of 8.39 through her six winning starts and two additional appearances.
While playing 13 games to Princeton’s 10, Maryland’s top scorers have registered approximately twice as many points as the highest-scoring Tigers.
Maryland’s star attack Taylor Cummings was last year’s ACC Rookie of the Year, as well as being a first-team All-America selection. Her 54 points on the season rank second only to midfielder Kelly McPartland’s, who has recorded 40 goals and 21 assists.
“The goals and expectations for every one of these games,” McMunn said in a televised interview after the Yale win, “are to play a full 60-minute game and put together all the little pieces we’ve been working at to get better all year long.”
If the Tigers can realize their potential, it is certainly possible that this will be the year they finally overcome the Terrapins. However, it will be far from an easy task.