With the Ivy League regular season title on the line, the Cornell men’s lacrosse team will head to Princeton, N.J. this weekend in an effort to join the Tigers at the top of the conference and gain home field advantage in the Ivy League Tournament. The Red will meet the Tigers on the turf Saturday at 7 p.m. for the nationally televised match-up (ESPNU) at Princeton’s Class of 1952 Stadium.
After last weekend’s disappointing, 10-9, loss to Brown, the No. 7/8 Red (9-2, 4-1 Ivy League) has spent the week regrouping and preparing itself to not make the same mistakes against Princeton that it did against Brown. The No. 12 Tigers (9-3, 5-0), on the other hand, come into tomorrow’s contest on a three-game win streak, which includes a 21-6 shellacking of Dartmouth two weeks ago and a 12-5 drubbing of Harvard last weekend in Cambridge.
“We didn’t really deserve to win that game,” said senior midfielder Chip Daugherty of the loss to Brown. “We have a lot of errors to correct with ourselves. [We’re] focusing on simple things, like communication on defense, stick work and fundamental shooting.”
Unlike the Bears, who entered into last weekend’s game fighting to gain the fourth and final position in the Ivy League Tournament, Princeton enters tomorrow’s showdown as the team to beat in the Ancient Eight and will be looking to add home field advantage in the Tournament to the share of the Ivy League crown that it has already laid claim to.
“We know that we can’t bring the same performance that we brought against Brown to Princeton,” said senior midfielder Scott Austin. “In a rivalry like the one we have with Princeton, you know it’s going to be a heated battle.”
Led by sophomore midfielder Tom Schreiber and senior goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito — both Tewaaraton Trophy nominees — Princeton surges into tomorrow’s contest with the satisfaction of knowing that, for the 26th time in 55 seasons, it has earned at least a share of the Ivy League title. However, the Red, which has already claimed 26 championships itself, will be looking to one-up the Tigers by nabbing it’s 27th.
“There are a number of factors which make this game huge,” Daugherty said. “This game will determine whether or not we will be Co-Ivy League Champions in the regular season and it gives us seniors another chance to play at home next weekend, back at Schoellkopf Field. With all those implications, it’s a huge game. It’s going to be a wild atmosphere. We couldn’t be more excited to get after ‘em.”
With the third best defense in the country, largely due to the work of Fiorito, who has averaged a .711 save percentage and 4.83 goals-against in Ivy League play, Princeton will be looking to shut down the Cornell offense and get the ball up the field to guys like Schreiber and senior midfielder Jeff Froccaro, who have together combined for 80 points on the season. Schreiber himself has already tallied 50 points on the year, the first Tiger to reach that mark in a season since the Boston Cannons’ Ryan Boyle did it as a member of the ’04 Princeton squad.
Although there has been a lot of buzz around the Princeton team lately, it is important to recognize that Cornell is still in control of its own destiny and it is up to the Red to earn the right to host the Ivy League Tournament. With a win over the Tigers tomorrow, the Red would secure its tenth-straight Ivy League title — six of them being shared with Princeton — tying the current school record, which began with the 1974 season and lasted until 1983, a period which included two national championships. Cornell boasts one of the most balanced offenses in Division One lacrosse. It is one of only three Top-10 schools that does not possess a player ranked in the Top- 50 in the category of points per game. Against Princeton, look for a big contribution to come from senior midfielder Roy Lang, who was named one of 25 Tewaaraton nominees (one of three from the Ivy League, along with Schreiber and Fiorito) on Wednesday. Lang has been solid for the Red this year, forcing six turnovers, nabbing 22 ground balls and notching 18 points.
“It’s a rivalry that we really cherish and it’s a game that we have circled on our calendar every year,” Daugherty added. “We respect Princeton, but they’re a team that we would love to beat.”