Only one game remains before No. 6 Cornell men’s lacrosse begins its postseason campaign. While little will likely change before then, the Red will look to stay hot as it closes out the regular season against Princeton on the road.
With a dominating 19-5 win over Brown Cornell (10-3, 4-1 Ivy) locked up the second seed in the Ivy Tournament, which takes place May 4 and 6 in New York. But before then, the Red will travel to take on the Tigers (7-5, 2-3) in the hopes of extending its winning streak to eight.
“No matter what’s going on this year … Princeton’s always that team that Cornell wants to beat,” said junior attack Colton Rupp. “I think we have an added chip on our shoulder to play hard this week just based on that rivalry game. We would love to come out victorious against them and obviously it would be huge for our momentum heading into the postseason.”
The Red’s only Ivy loss was in its first conference game against Yale, when it fell to the Bulldogs by a couple of goals. Since, both teams have been impressive. Yale secured the Ivy League regular season title and was crowned the new No. 1 team in the nation this week in the Inside Lacrosse poll.
For Cornell’s part, the Red has been almost perfect in and out of the Ivy League, having piled up a seven-game winning streak.
Over the course of the winning streak, the Red has had a pair of double-digit wins over Ivy opponents as well as victories against nationally ranked opponents, including then-No. 7 Syracuse.
“It’s a great feeling to go out there and win a couple weeks in a row, but we try to take it game by game,” said junior midfielder Jake McCulloch. “Now we are just focused on Princeton; we aren’t worried about a winning streak at all.”
Last on the docket for the Red is a Princeton team struggling in the Ivy League, but with the chance to come out .500 in the conference. Despite the record, the Tigers are a squad full of talent and grit.
Interim head coach Peter Milliman was not available for comment Wednesday due to a personal conflict.
“[Princeton has a] really talented team,” said assistant coach Jordan Stevens ’15. “They’ve got a lot of good weapons, especially on offense. They do a good job of scrapping in the middle of the field. Their defense has come together more as of late.”
While Cornell has the claim to the nation’s best offense, averaging 15.13 goals per game, the Tigers are not far behind, ranking fifth in the country with 13.58.
‘[Princeton’s] got one of the better offenses in the country,” Stevens said. “They’ve got some good shooters on the inside and up top.”
Phillip Robertson and Austin Sims have 2.58 goals per game thus far in 2018, leading the way for the Princeton offense. The hope for Cornell is that sophomore Jeff Teat and junior Clarke Petterson, each averaging 2.69 and 2.54 respectively, can outdo the Tigers’ pair on the opposite side of the field, among other things.
“Being smart with the ball in the middle of the field, making sure we can limit their possessions and just being tough on defense will hopefully get us a win,” Stevens said.
Another strong spot for the Princeton is in the cage with goaltender Tyler Blaisdell. The senior is currently tied for fourth in the nation with 12.42 saves per contest.
“I think we’ve faced a lot of skilled goalies throughout the year,” Rupp said. “Specifically … this goalie plays a higher arc, which could rely on trying to redirect the ball from one side of the field to the other to open things up.”
The home team will look to return the favor after Cornell defeated Princeton by a goal in the 2017 regular season finale in Ithaca. However, this time around, the roles are reversed. The teams’ conference records are swapped and the Red is ranked in the national polls.
“We know this is a rivalry game, both for us and them, so we know [Princeton’s] going to be up for this one,” Stevens said.
Cornell will square off against Princeton at 1 p.m. Saturday in New Jersey.